What to Do When Athlete’s Foot Won’t Go Away

by | Jan 1, 2023

Have you tried everything you can think of to get rid of athlete’s foot? But the itchy white patches between the toes won’t go away? Even if you have tried taking sea salt baths and soaking your feet in vinegar and water, a stubborn athlete’s foot can be a real problem. 

Based on clinical evidence, roughly 15-25% of people are likely to develop an athlete’s foot at any time. The infection can spread to other areas of the body and affect other people. 

At Premier Podiatry Group P.C., we specialize in athlete’s foot treatment and other foot problems. If your athlete’s foot doesn’t improve or subside with self-care, we can suggest prescription ointments or creams that will remove it.

What is Athlete’s Foot? 

Athlete’s foot (foot ringworm) is an infection of the feet that develops from a fungus that grows on the skin of the feet. Athlete’s foot is the most prevalent type of tinea infection. Studies estimate 3% to 15% of the population is affected, with seniors and men having bigger odds of developing it.

The skin between the toes provides the perfect environment for the fungus to grow. The infection is recognized by the scales or skin fissures. The skin feels cracked, peeling, or scaly and is often accompanied by itchiness.

The color of the affected skin will vary depending on your skin color. But the inflamed area usually looks grayish, purplish, or reddish. This infection is contagious and can be spread through contact with fungi or skin scales on contaminated surfaces. 

Just like any microscopic plant-like organism, the fungus loves all moist, damp, and warm places. For example, public swimming pools, showers, bathroom floors, locker rooms, etc.

Man scratching foot because of athlete's foot fungal infection

Athlete’s Foot Home Treatment Options

Want to know how to get rid of athlete’s foot? Athlete’s foot is easy to get, but removing it can be a real problem. Many people try different treatment options at home. Although research on these treatments is lacking, they can offer some relief. Here is a quick look at some of them.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Plenty of OTC treatments are available on the market. They come in different forms, and the infection usually responds well. You can apply the products to the affected area and keep using them for at least a week to notice some results. These over-the-counter treatments can include:

  • Lotions
  • Ointments
  • Spray
  • Powders

OTC topical antifungals such as tolnaftate (Tinactin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and clotrimazole (Lotrimin) can help. Patients also like to use miconazole or undecylenic acid to halt the fungus or stop it from growing. 

Ointments usually contain the most oil, which makes them a practical choice for cracked and super dry skin. Lotions can be a great option when you want to moisturize the feet and maintain the skin’s softness. Sprays are much easier to apply. They can be useful when you don’t want to directly touch the affected skin. While powders are comfortable to use, keep the feet dry, and free of odor.

Other Home Remedies

Want to find some other ways to get rid of athlete’s foot? Some natural remedies sometimes work. Many times these do not treat athlete’s foot completely, but some people swear by them. Some of these do have potent antifungal and antibacterial compounds and are less likely to cause side effects though.

  • Tea tree oil: Rubbing the oil 2 times a day can curb swelling, itching, and scaling. But, it might take a month to see some results.
  • Garlic: Make a garlic foot soak with warm water and 3-4 garlic cloves. Soak for about 30 min, 2 times a day, for up to 1 week. However, your feet will smell like garlic.
  • Baking soda: Soak the feet in ½ cup of baking soda and a large basin of warm water. Let the feet sit in the water for 15-20 min, 2 times a day.
  • Iodine and hydrogen peroxide: Combine some hydrogen peroxide and iodine and use a pad to add them to the affected area. Dilute the iodine first to avoid damaging the skin. But, this solution can sting a little.

Why Athlete’s Foot Might Not Go Away

Have you tried these home remedies only to end up disappointed? Fungal infections are often more resistant to at-home treatments and antifungal drugs. Fungi can develop a resistance to antifungal medication; the same way bacteria do to antibiotics. 

Resistance occurs when germs become capable of defeating the medicine that is supposed to kill them. This means the germs do not get removed and keep growing. Resistance can be a real problem and drastically limit your treatment options. 

Some fungi can be highly resistant to normal OTC medication. And home remedies don’t offer the results you need. The problem is, an athlete’s foot doesn’t often subside on its own. You need treatment to stop it from spreading to other areas of the body. Like the nails, groin, or hands. 

Doctor examining foot for athlete's foot infection

What Our Professionals Can Do to Help

What do I do if my athlete’s foot won’t go away? This is a common question we get at our clinic. We can help you find the right medicine that can work for you. When non-prescription athlete’s foot treatment doesn’t work, we suggest stronger prescription-only creams or ointments. 

If the infection is more severe, our experts at Premier Podiatry Group P.C. can suggest antifungal oral medicine. Some patients benefit the most from both oral and topical medication. 

Prescription-Strength Topical Medication

Some of these products can include:

  • Ciclopirox (Penlac, Loprox,)
  • Econazole (Spectazole, Ecoza)
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrisone)

Oral Anti-Fungal Medication

Oral itraconazole or terbinafine can help. Based on recent clinical statistics, Oral terbinafine might be more effective than griseofulvin at boosting mycological cure at 4 to 8 weeks in adults with athlete’s foot. But, everyone’s body can react differently to drugs. 

So, it is important that we tailor the athlete’s foot treatment to your needs. We will take into account any allergies or other medications you are taking and suggest the best approach for curbing the symptoms and removing the infection.

Don’t Put Up With Athlete’s Foot Anymore!

If home treatments don’t work, it’s time to book an appointment at Premier Podiatry Group P.C. Contact us today at (814) 472-2660 and get a personalized foot treatment that can produce favorable results. If you have any questions, our team is happy to help!