Besides being exposed to any of the modes of transmission presented above, there are additional risk factors that increase one's chance of contracting athlete's foot. Persons who have had athlete's foot before are more likely to become infected than those who have not. Adults are more likely to catch athlete's foot than children. Men have a higher chance of getting athlete's foot than women.[25] People with diabetes or weakened immune systems[25] are more susceptible to the disease. HIV/AIDS hampers the immune system and increases the risk of acquiring athlete's foot. Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased sweating) increases the risk of infection and makes treatment more difficult.[26]
Fungal infection occurs when the organism invades through an opening in the nail, meaning fungi will usually attack nails that are already damaged. After infection occurs, the growth of the fungi leads to mild inflammation, which causes the nail to thicken and the nail plate to detach from the nail bed. The space underneath the nail can then serve as a reservoir for bacteria and moulds, which can cause the nail to become discoloured.

Many individuals with athlete's foot have no symptoms at all and do not even know they have an infection. Many may think they simply have dry skin on the soles of their feet. Common symptoms of athlete's foot typically include various degrees of itching, stinging, and burning. The skin may frequently peel, and in particularly severe cases, there may be some cracking, fissuring, pain, and itching in the toe webs. Occasionally, athlete's foot can blister.
In some cases of suspected nail fungus there is actually no fungal infection, but only nail deformity. A 2003 source gives a figure of 50%[17] whereas a more recent source claims that fungus is present in 65 to 95 percent of cases.[18] Avoiding use of oral antifungal therapy (e.g. terbinafine) in persons without a confirmed infection is a particular concern because of the possible side effects of that treatment.[17] However, according to a 2015 study, the cost in the United States of testing with the periodic acid–Schiff stain (PAS) was about $148. Even if the cheaper KOH test is used first and the PAS test is used only if the KOH test is negative, there is a good chance that the PAS will be done (because of either a true or a false negative with the KOH test). But the terbinafine treatment only cost $10 (plus an additional $43 for liver function tests). In conclusion the authors say that terbinafine has a relatively benign adverse effect profile, with liver damage very rare, so it makes more sense cost-wise for the dermatologist to prescribe the treatment without doing the PAS test. (Another option would be to prescribe the treatment only if the potassium hydroxide test is positive, but it gives a false negative in about 20% of cases of fungal infection.) On the other hand, as of 2015 the price of topical (non-oral) treatment with efinaconazole was $2307 per nail, so testing is recommended before prescribing it.[18]
Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment. Although designed for cough suppression, its active ingredients, camphor and eucalyptus oil, may help treat toenail fungus. A 2011 study found Vicks VapoRub had a “positive clinical effect” in the treatment of toenail fungus. To use, apply a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to the affected area at least once a day.
Conventional treatment typically involves thoroughly washing the feet daily or twice daily, followed by the application of a topical medication. Because the outer skin layers are damaged and susceptible to reinfection, topical treatment generally continues until all layers of the skin are replaced, about 2–6 weeks after symptoms disappear. Keeping feet dry and practicing good hygiene (as described in the above section on prevention) is crucial for killing the fungus and preventing reinfection.
When athlete's foot fungus or infested skin particles spread to one's environment (such as to clothes, shoes, bathroom, etc.) whether through scratching, falling, or rubbing off, not only can they infect other people, they can also reinfect (or further infect) the host they came from. For example, infected feet infest one's socks and shoes which further expose the feet to the fungus and its spores when worn again.

Because fungus needs an acidic environment to flourish, alkaline baking soda actually prevents toenail fungus from spreading by creating an uninhabitable environment for it.  Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a powerful fungicide.  These two combined create a remedy that can cure nail fungus fast.  Mix equal parts borax powder and baking soda with just enough water to form a paste.  Wet feet and gently rub the mixture onto infected nails.  Do this twice daily and continue for at least two weeks after fungus appears to have cleared up.
Apply Vick's VapoRub. You can get over the counter vapor rub from Vick's to help your fungus. A study showed that daily application of Vick's VapoRub for 48 weeks can be as effective as topical treatment options such as Ciclopirox 8% for nail fungus.[12] To treat nail fungus with Vick's VapoRub, first make sure your nail is clean and dry. Apply a small amount of Vick's VapoRub on the affected area daily with your finger or a cotton swab, preferably at night. Continue treatment for up to 48 weeks.
Ciclopirox (Penlac) topical solution 8% is a medical nail lacquer that has been approved to treat finger or toenail fungus that does not involve the white portion of the nail (lunula) in people with normal immune systems. In one study, ciclopirox got rid of the fungus 22% of the time. The medication is applied to affected nails once daily for up to one year. The lacquer must be wiped clean with alcohol once a week.
Walking barefoot in wet, dark areas frequented by many other individuals like indoor swimming pool decks, communal showers, and locker rooms result in frequent exposure to pathogenic fungi (dermatophytes) that cause athlete’s foot. Wearing occlusive footwear is thought to play a significant role in the increased frequency of tinea pedis. Exposure to moisture either from excessive sweating or from an external source is a risk factor. Wearing the same shoes and socks for an extended period may damage the skin. Patients with diabetes are predisposed to develop tinea pedis. Some believe that eczema (atopic dermatitis) can predispose one to tinea pedis. It appears that many more men have tinea pedis than women. Pedicure performed in contaminated environments can spread disease.
Take oral medication. The most effective way to get rid of nail fungus is systemic treatment with oral prescription antifungals. Treatment with oral medications can take 2-3 months or longer. Oral antifungal prescription medications include Lamisil, which is usually prescribed with a dose of 250 mg a day for 12 weeks. Side effects can include rash, diarrhea, or liver enzyme abnormalities. This medication should not be used if you have liver or kidney issues.
Your physician may perform a simple test called a potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation for microscopic fungal examination in the office or laboratory. This test can be used to confirm the presence of a fungal infection. This test is performed by using a microscope to examine small flakes of skin from the rash. Many dermatologists perform this test in their office with results available within minutes. Rarely, a small piece of skin may be removed and sent for biopsy or fungal culture to help confirm the diagnosis.
Orange essential oil is another natural anti-fungal that can be applied daily to toenails in order to cure an infection.  Apply a drop of Plant Therapy Orange Oil on nails and between toes.  Let the oil soak in for at least one hour.  Orange oil may be too strong for people with sensitive skin.  If you find this is the case for you, dilute the oil with an all-natural carrier such as olive oil.  Also, because citrus allergies are somewhat common, it is recommended to test orange oil on a spot of healthy skin before applying it to infected nails.  (Many health and wellness stores have open ‘testers’ of their products for just such a purpose.)
I fully believe in natural remedies as well as safe, pharmaceutical ones. I have all of the ingredients and essential oils necessary to make my own potions, but as a busy, working Mom I chose the easy route of purchasing the potion already made up. I used this religiously for over a month. I cleaned and trimmed my affected 4 toenails constantly through the process. I saw absolutely no results. Yes, the painted on 2nd step does temporarily improve the appearance of the nail instantly, but that's because of the glossy sheen. Any oil will do that. Once soaked in, my nail looked and remained the same. Perhaps my failure was a result of dipping the brush I used on my infected toes and back into the bottle repeated times. Doesn't that seem counter productive given a fast-spreading fungus? They're slowly growing out but the fungus remains in the grow out and my nails are still thin and fragile. I would have given this product one more star with a pat on the back and a "nice try" but the huge number of immediate, 5-star reviews left me with the instant feeling of being mislead. I may have even given it more time with more realistic reviews.
Not all cases of OM require treatment with medication but if your doctor has confirmed you have OM and require treatment, they may prescribe an oral antifungal medication (terbinafine, itraconazole*) based on the type of fungus causing the infection. If you are unable to take oral antifungals or have a mild-to-moderate case of OM, your doctor may opt for a topical therapy (ciclopirox, efinaconazole*) that is applied to the affected nail(s) directly.
Athlete's foot was first medically described in 1908.[9] Globally, athlete's foot affects about 15% of the population.[2] Males are more often affected than females.[4] It occurs most frequently in older children or younger adults.[4] Historically it is believed to have been a rare condition, that became more frequent in the 1900s due to the greater use of shoes, health clubs, war, and travel.[10]
Besides being exposed to any of the modes of transmission presented above, there are additional risk factors that increase one's chance of contracting athlete's foot. Persons who have had athlete's foot before are more likely to become infected than those who have not. Adults are more likely to catch athlete's foot than children. Men have a higher chance of getting athlete's foot than women.[25] People with diabetes or weakened immune systems[25] are more susceptible to the disease. HIV/AIDS hampers the immune system and increases the risk of acquiring athlete's foot. Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased sweating) increases the risk of infection and makes treatment more difficult.[26]
In normal, healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by fungus that is caught from moist, wet areas. Communal showers, such as those at a gym or swimming pools, are common sources. Going to nail salons that use inadequate sanitization of instruments (such as clippers, filers, and foot tubs) in addition to living with family members who have fungal nails are also risk factors. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting, sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having athlete's foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. Repetitive trauma also weakens the nail, which makes the nail more susceptible to fungal infection.
Medications in tablet form are much more effective at fighting nail fungus than topical treatments are, but they aren’t guaranteed to work and also have more side effects, long treatment durations and possible interactions. (7) Another downside is that they are like putting a Band-Aid on the problem — they’re not addressing why the fungus developed in the first place.

“The medications we use to treat this are expensive and they are not benign,” cautioned Dr. Hinkes. “Lamisil is so powerful it stays in your body six months after you stop using it, and that’s one of the reasons why it works so well. So when we use these medicines, we have to be conscious that we may be affecting a person’s liver, because the liver is the organ that helps to detoxify the body and excretes that medicine.”

Topical antifungal agents can be used but are often ineffective. Oral terbinafine is considered to be the first-line treatment for confirmed onychomycosis; the treatment course is generally 6 weeks for fingernails and 12 weeks for toenails.9 Azoles can also be used. Surgical debridement or removal of the affected nail is also a consideration for cases that are resistant to antifungals, and laser treatments for onychomycosis appear to be a promising area for future study.10


To get rid of foot fungus like Athlete's Foot, start by applying an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, spray, powder, or cream to the affected area. You can also try taking an over-the-counter medication like butenafine or clotrimazole, but see your doctor for a prescription medication if your case is severe. If you're interested in a homeopathic solution, apply 100% tea tree oil to the affected area 2-3 times per day. To prevent the fungus from returning, wash your feet with antibacterial soap and dry them thoroughly, especially between your toes!
Onychomycosis does not necessarily require treatment.[3] The antifungal medication, terbinafine, taken by mouth appears to be the most effective but is associated with liver problems.[2][4] Trimming the affected nails when on treatment also appears useful.[2] There is a ciclopirox containing nail polish, but it does not work as well.[2] The condition returns in up to half of cases following treatment.[2] Not using old shoes after treatment may decrease the risk of recurrence.[3]
Topical treatment is also usually recommended for children. One reason for this is that most oral medications aren’t suitable for children. Another reason is that children have thinner nails that grow more quickly, so it’s assumed that treatment with nail polish or creams is more likely to work in children than in adults. White superficial onychomycosis is also often treated with a nail polish or cream.
Prevent future occurrences. There are many situations that make you more at risk for infection. You are at a higher risk if you are older, have diabetes, have an impaired immune system, or have poor circulation. If you are at high risk, you should take extra care to prevent infection. Preventative measures include wearing shoes or sandals when you are at damp public areas such as swimming pools or gyms, keeping your toenails clipped and clean, making sure your feet are dry, and drying your feet after you shower.
Mouthwash kills bacteria and germs in your mouth, so why not use it to kill bacteria and germs on your feet? Its antiseptic properties work to keep away harmful bacteria and fungi. Combine equal parts white vinegar and mouthwash and soak the infected area for 30 minutes, then scrub the toenail area gently. Repeat once or twice daily until the foot fungus clears. Make sure you know these home remedies for athlete’s foot.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Athlete’s foot infections can be mild or severe. Some clear up quickly, and others last a long time. Athlete’s foot infections generally respond well to antifungal treatment. However, sometimes fungal infections are difficult to eliminate. Long-term treatment with antifungal medications may be necessary to keep athlete’s foot infections from returning.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medicines as topical applications to help treat foot and toenail fungus and prevent the fungus from recurring. PROFOOT anti-fungal products containing Tolnaftate 1% are clinically proven to cure and prevent fungal infections on skin around, adjacent to, and under nails, making it easy to treat fungal infections all day, every day, until they have cleared. ProClearz Fungal Shield is a safe and effective clear formula that dries quickly with no unpleasant odor. The 1 oz. bottle comes with a brush-on applicator designed to reach skin areas around and under nails.
For some people, a fungal infection of the nails can be difficult to cure and the first round of medication might not work. The nail infection can’t be considered cured until a new nail that’s free from infection has grown in. Although this indicates that the nail is no longer infected, it’s possible for the fungal infection to return. In severe cases, there may be permanent damage to your nail, and it may have to be removed.
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