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Back to School: How to Treat Athlete’s Foot Without a Prescription

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on September 16, 2016 at 2:58 pm

For many, back to school also means back to sports—football, soccer, swimming, wrestling, and cheerleading, among others.

With so many kids coming through the same locker rooms, and sometimes sharing equipment, your child’s favorite sport can mean they’re more susceptible to fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

The good news: there are many non-prescription options out there that can help.

Are antifungals available over-the-counter?

Yes. If your child has come into contact with ringworm from the wrestling mat or athlete’s foot from a gym shower, you can find treatments in the aisles of your local pharmacy or grocery store.

The most common OTC antifungals include clotrimazole, miconazole, tolnaftate, and terbinafine. They can also be found under a variety of brand names including Lamisil, Lotrimin, Tinactin, and Zeasorb to name a few. They come in several forms, including creams, ointments, gels, sprays, and powders.

What you may not know: most of these products can be found in the foot care aisle of your local store—even though they can be used for other areas of the body.

What symptoms do these OTC antifungals treat?

OTC antifungals can treat itching, burning, cracking, scaling, and chafing.

Are there any limitations?

Yes. Non-prescriptino antifungals don’t treat fungal infections of the scalp or nails.

How can my child avoid getting a fungal infection when playing sports?

There are a few ways your kids can play it smart:

  • Keep skin dry and clean
  • Keep nails short and clean
  • Keep all sports gear and equipment clean
  • Change socks and underwear at least once a day
  • Don’t share any personal items like towels, clothes, combs, sports equipment
  • Don’t walk bare foot in public areas such as the locker room or shower
  • Don’t share any personal items like towels, clothes, combs, sports equipment

How do I know when my child needs to see a doctor for a fungal infection?

If you think your child may have a more serious fungal infection (or an infection on the scalp or affecting their nails), contact your doctor for an appointment.

You should also consider contacting your doctor if your child has used an OTC antifungal treatment for 2 weeks but continues to have symptoms.

Your doctor can confirm and give an diagnosis a resistant or more serious fungal infection, and provide prescription treatment if necessary.

What prescription treatments are available to treat fungal infections?

Common prescription treatments for fungal infection include:

  • Ketoconazole (Brand: Nizoral)
  • Itraconazole (Brand: Sporanox)
  • Fluconazole (Brand: Diflucan)
  • Griseofulvin (Brand: Gris-Peg)
  • Terbinafine (Brand: Lamisil)

Your child’s doctor will be able to tell you if one of these prescription treatments is needed.

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