Signs Athlete’s Foot Needs Prescription Drugs

Often, over-the-counter (OTC) tinea pedis treatment is sufficient to cure tinea pedis (Tinea pedis). However, if after a few weeks the skin between your toes is still peeling, itchy, and starts to swell and blister, you may need to see a healthcare provider for a prescription for athlete’s foot.

This article will explain when you may need prescription treatment for athlete’s foot. It will also discuss various treatment options and their possible side effects.

Athlete’s Foot Overview

Signs you need a prescription

Generally, prescription medication is needed to treat athlete’s foot if:

  • After four weeks of self-treatment, the infection still hasn’t cleared up.
  • The infection goes away but comes back (relapse).
  • The infection is spreading to other parts of the body (such as the nails, groin, or hands).

If you have athlete’s foot and diabetes, you should see your healthcare provider right away; don’t bother with home remedies. Athlete’s feet can cause dry, chapped skin, which can leave diabetics prone to serious complications such as cellulitis, bacterial infections or skin ulcers.

When to call a healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider or seek emergency care right away if:

  • Your foot is swollen and has red streaks.
  • The discharge contains pus or other fluid.
  • You have a high fever and other signs of infection.

treatment solutions

If your athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, your healthcare provider will usually prescribe a prescription-strength version of the same topical medication. These include:

  • Lanmisi (terbinafine)
  • Spectazole (econazole)
  • Mingtai (butenafine)
  • Lotrimin (clotrimazole)
  • Micatin (miconazole)
  • Naftifine
  • Luzu (luliconazole)
  • Ertaczo (sertaconazole)
  • Exelderm (suconazole)
  • Tinactin (Tolnaftate)

Treatment usually lasts 4 weeks or at least 1 week after all skin symptoms disappear.

If the fungus is resistant to topical treatment, oral antifungals—such as lanmisil (terbinafine), sporanox (itraconazole), and daflucan (fluconazole)—may be prescribed. Depending on the severity of the infection, oral antifungals may be prescribed for one to nine weeks.

other drugs

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed if a secondary infection occurs (usually when bacteria enter through an open tear in the skin). These include Augmentin (amoxicillin-clavulanate), cephalexin, dicloxacillin, and clindamycin.

While topical corticosteroids may help treat noninfectious foot conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, they can aggravate athlete’s foot by suppressing the immune system and should be avoided.

The longer athlete’s foot lasts, the greater the chance it will spread to the toenails or fingernails. This can lead to a difficult-to-treat infection that can make your nails thick, discolored, and brittle. If this happens, a 6- to 12-week course of oral antifungals, along with creams and Penlac (ciclopirox) nail polish, may be required.

Oral Antifungal Drug Side Effects

Although oral antifungals can be effective for refractory athlete’s foot, they carry a greater risk of side effects than topical antifungals.


Lamisil can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, nausea, upset stomach, nasal congestion, cough, dizziness, and bad breath. Long-term use can damage the liver. Caution is required when using oral lamoxicil in people with liver disease.


Sporanox may cause many of the same symptoms as Lamisil, as well as constipation and joint pain. Sporanox should not be taken by mouth if you have congestive heart failure.

Let your healthcare provider know if you have cardiovascular disease, breathing disorders, cystic fibrosis, long QT syndrome, liver or kidney disease, or a family history of any of these conditions.

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Diflucan may cause headache, diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, and changes in taste. Caution should be used in people with long QT syndrome, cardiac arrhythmia, liver disease, or kidney disease.

Pregnancy Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider so you can make an informed choice. This is especially true during the early stages of fetal development.

Studies have shown that higher doses of oral antifungal drugs may harm the fetus and should be avoided. Diflucan has a higher risk, but it also works with other commonly used oral antifungals.

In most cases, a combination of topical antifungal and home care will provide relief. Topical medications can be used throughout pregnancy because only small amounts are absorbed through the skin.

prevent athlete’s foot

People often get athlete’s foot from walking barefoot in wet public areas, such as locker rooms or pool decks. To reduce your chances of getting athlete’s foot, try wearing flip-flops, shower shoes, or sandals in these areas.

Also, it’s important to keep your feet, socks, and shoes dry. Fungus grows more easily in warm, damp places, such as sweaty shoes. Make sure to wash your feet daily with soap and dry them thoroughly after washing.


Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. Mild cases of athlete’s foot can usually be treated with over-the-counter creams, but severe or persistent cases may require prescription medications, such as lamicillin (terbinafine) and Spectazole (econazole).

VigorTip words

If you are dealing with a stubborn case of beriberi, discuss prescribing options with your doctor and remember to inform them of any medical conditions you have or any medications you may be taking (including vitamins, herbal and nutritional supplements).

Top 4 Foot Remedies for Over-the-Counter Athletes

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my athlete’s foot not responding to any treatment?

    You may not have athlete’s foot. Eczema, dry skin, and other conditions are similar to athlete’s foot, but require different treatments. Please consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. For athlete’s foot, you may need a stronger antifungal cream or oral medication.

    understand more:

    What is eczema?

  • What is the best prescription drug for athlete’s foot?

    There is no clear best prescription for beriberi, but common prescriptions known to treat beriberi successfully include Lamisil (terbinafine), Sporanox (itraconazole), and Diflucan (fluconazole).