The 5 Best Athlete's Foot Treatments of 2022

Nix athlete’s foot pain with these OTC solutions

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Not only can an athlete’s foot be painful, but it can be quite annoying. Known in the medical community as tinea pedis, the condition causes itchiness, redness, and even cracking skin on the bottoms of the feet and toes.

Verywell Health spoke with Alan Bass, DPM, an American Podiatric Medical Association podiatrist and spokesperson, to find out what causes this condition and how it can be properly treated. “It is caused by a fungal organism, and fungal organisms like hot, wet, moist places,” explains Dr. Bass. “That makes the foot, especially in shoes and socks, a perfect breeding ground for the fungal organisms.”

The best solution, according to Dr. Bass, is a fairly simple one—keep your feet clean and dry. This means changing your socks often, particularly if you’re prone to sweating and/or planning on a workout during the day.

In addition to keeping your feet clean and dry, Dr. Bass recommends looking for antifungal powders, which can be applied to your feet before putting on socks. Dr. Bass says any of the popular antifungal creams can help as well. Most importantly, Dr. Bass says it’s vital to know when to go to an actual podiatrist. 

“Athlete’s foot infections can become serious,” says Dr. Bass. “If the redness, cracking or flakiness does not resolve in two weeks with the use of home treatment, it’s time to see the podiatrist.” Additionally, consult a doctor if the fungus gets under the toenail bed because then the condition becomes impossible to treat with at-home topical creams and powders.

Here are the best athlete's foot treatments on the market.

1
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Best Overall: Lotrimin AF Athlete's Foot Liquid Spray

Lotrimin

Powders may seem annoying and messy to apply. However, when used in spray form, they can make for a much easier application. This Lotrimin option comes in a spray form, which is great for coating every single crevice of your foot. 

This formula contains two percent miconazole nitrate, which has been clinically proven to relieve itchy skin and can even be used as initial prevention of Athlete's foot. The best part about powder formulas, in general, is that they contain active fungal-fighting ingredients while also working to dry out any moist areas. They truly might be the best option for those who are trying to prevent recurrence and reduce itching. 

2
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Best for Kids: Lotrimin AF Cream for Athlete's Foot

Lotrimin AF Cream for Athlete's Foot

Courtesy of Amazon

Lotrimin's formula soothes irritated, cracked skin while working to clear up the fungal infection. This formula can also be used on ringworm breakouts, making it a versatile product to keep in your medicine cabinet. It can also be used on children over the age of two, so if your little one is dealing with a bout of athlete's foot, turn to Lotrimin.

3
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Best Cream: Lamisil Athelete's Foot Antifungal Cream

Lamisil Athelete's Foot Antifungal Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

Many people prefer to use powder treatments during the day or before workouts. Consider the athlete's foot creams your go-to nighttime or at-home solutions. Cream-based products are generally more soothing than powders, so they’re perfect for use after bathing and before bedtime. Don’t worry, this won’t stain your clothes or bed linens. 

Lamisil's Antifungal Cream cures most athlete's foot between the toes within one week while providing relief from the itching and burning of athlete's foot. The product's one-ounce package makes it an easy addition to any gym bag, so you can keep it with you anytime you workout.

4
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Best Foot Soak: Truremedy Naturals Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak with Epsom Salt & Mint

Truremedy Naturals Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak with Epsom Salt & Mint

Courtesy of Amazon

If you want to stick with a natural athlete's treatment, try Trueremedy Naturals' Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-fungal, and in bath salt form, it's particularly non-invasive. Not only does it help eliminate athlete's foot, but it leaves your feet feeling fresh and smelling clean.

This foot soak uses a combination of tea tree oil, Epsom salt, sea salt, and other essential oils to help relieve itching and soften skin. It's a non-chemical solution that doubles as a great way to unwind.

5
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Best Spray: Lamisil AT Antifungal Spray for Athletes Foot

Lamisil

The leading brands in athlete’s foot products—Lotrimin and Lamisil—also top the list for best spray treatment. These formulas have been perfected over the years, and while they may come in different forms than they did when you were a kid, they’re just as effective. This particular application method clears up symptoms in just one week, but be sure that you follow the instructions on the box exactly.

Final Verdict

When you’re heading to a workout or any time you’re putting on shoes for a full day, you definitely need Lotrimin Athlete's Foot Liquid Powder Spray (view at Amazon) as the first line of defense. Luckily, even though it’s a powder, it’s easy to apply to and the spray form makes it simple to get in between the toes and into cracks in irritated skin. When you head home for the day, make sure you’re applying a cream like Lamisil AT Antifungal Cream (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in an Athlete's Foot Treatment

Form

Choose between powders and creams based on what works best for you and your schedule. Remember that powders are good for wicking away moisture, so you might want to consider the application before putting on shoes for the day. Creams are soothing but can be uncomfortable to use during the day, so they are best to apply before bed. 

Ingredients

There are a few active ingredients that have proven to be effective in the treatment of athlete’s foot. Dr. Bass says to look for one percent terbinafine hydrochloride, which is usually found in creams; two percent miconazole nitrate, which is found in powders; or one percent terbinafine hydrochloride, which can pop up in both cream and powder forms. 

If trying a natural method is important to you, look into products that contain tea tree oil, as it’s a natural anti-fungal. It can be used to help treat other fungal infections, including jock itch and ringworm.

Application

While there are a variety of treatments available for athlete's foot, there's going to be a method that works best for you and your specific needs. If you have trouble with mobility and reaching your feet is an issue, a spray may work best for you. If you’d rather use treatment overnight, you may want to try a cream that takes a little more time to absorb into skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I prevent athlete's foot?

    Fungus likes moisture. According to Ami Sheth, M.D., a podiatry specialist in Los Gatos, California, your best bet for keeping the condition at bay is to keep feet dry. “Keeping the shoe environment dry, rotating out your shoes, and putting them out in the sun if you happen to suffer from sweaty feet is where you want to start. Using these methods, you might be able to squash it before it even begins,” explains Dr. Sheth. “If your feet are sweaty, you need to keep them dry. Some people will use baking soda or light cornstarch to keep the moisture out or powder. You can use moisture-wicking socks or change socks frequently too.” These methods along with using antifungal powders and creams before and after a long day can be your best defense against athlete’s foot. 

  • Is athlete's foot contagious?

    If you have athlete’s foot something you’ll want to be cognizant of is the fact that the fungus spreads easily. Linda Stein Gold, M.D., Head of Dermatology at Henry Ford Health System in West Bloomfield, Michigan, says that you should be vigilant if you live with someone who has athlete’s foot. It can spread by sharing shoes and walking barefoot in public places like locker rooms and pools. Dr. Stein Gold frequently advises people with and without the condition to always wear some type of sandal or flip flop in moist communal areas.

Keeping the shoe environment dry, rotating out your shoes, and putting them out in the sun if you happen to suffer from sweaty feet is where you want to start. Using these methods, you might be able to squash [the fungus] before [athlete's foot] even begins. —Dr. Ami Sheth, a Podiatry Specialist in Los Gatos, California

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Brittany Loggins is a freelance writer who has covered everything from wellness to politics. She has a degree in journalism from University of Georgia and lives in New York City.

Additional reporting to this story by Janae Price

As a health writer, Janae Price understands the importance of a knowledgeable and honest review. When there are so many different opinions out there, it's great to have a concise answer that cuts through all the junk online. Every product in this piece has been thoroughly researched and sourced by professionals with potential user needs in mind.

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  1. Piérard, G.e., et al. “Biometrological Assessment of the Preventive Effect of a Miconazole Spray Powder on Athlete's Foot.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 27 Apr. 2006, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2230.1996.tb00119.x. 

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