In many cases athlete's foot will resolve itself without any type of medical care. In fact, in 30-40% of cases this is what happens. However, topical antifungal medication does produce much higher rates of cure.
Typically treatment methods involve washing the feet once or twice a day, followed by the application of a topical medication. Since outer layers of skin are often damaged and are likely to become reinfected, it is reccomended that treatment continues for about 2-6 weeks after symptoms are no longer evident.
It is crucial once you have had athlete's foot to practice good hygiene in order to prevent reinfection. Keeping the feet dry can be really important when treating the feet isn't always enough. Wearing the same socks and shoes that have already been infested with fungi can reinfect the feet. To be effective, treatment should also include all infected areas so, that the infection doesn't continue to spread...especially to areas that have already been treated!
Skin infections that are more severe may require oral antifungal medication, such as Lamisil. However, most of the time it can be treated with topical antifungal sprays, powders, gels or creams. In most cases application of an antifungal cream such as terbinafine or butenafine once daily for two weeks is effective. Infection on the bottom, or plantar, side of the foot can be harder to treat because the skin is thicker in that area. Medications such as asurea, alicyclic acid and lactic acid can in these cases be used to improve how the antifungal medication penetrates the thickened skin.