Home > Prescription Oral Antifungals for Athlete's Foot
Allylamines and azoles are different classes of antifungal
medicine. Medicine from one class may work better for you than medicine from the other.
Prescription oral antifungal medicines
slow the growth of or kill
Oral medicines are usually taken
for 1 to 8 weeks. The exact amount of time varies and depends on how much
medicine you take each day.
If you stop taking the medicine
early, even after your symptoms are gone, an
athlete's foot infection will likely return. It is
very important to take the entire course of medicine.
Oral antifungals for
athlete's foot (tinea pedis) are usually only used for
a severe infection or when topical antifungal medicines (those put directly on the skin) have not cured the
infection. Some oral antifungals can also be used for fungal toenail
infections, which may occur with athlete's foot.
Research shows that oral antifungals
successfully cure athlete's foot for many people.
With moccasin-type athlete's foot, which is especially hard to cure, terbinafine seems to work as well as itraconazole.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list
of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
During oral antifungal treatment, you
may need to have blood tests to check your liver and kidney function.
Tell your doctor about other
medicines you are taking. Some medicines are not safe to take together with
Do not drink alcohol while taking oral
antifungals. Some forms of these medicines can cause or contribute to liver
problems, which alcohol can make worse.
Taking ketoconazole (Nizoral) may cause serious liver problems. These problems have caused some deaths.
If you use an antacid, wait at least 2 hours before taking ketoconazole.
Antacids reduce ketoconazole absorption from the stomach into the
Oral antifungals cost more than nonprescription
topical antifungal medicines.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use these medicines if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Fuller LC (2010). Tinea pedis and skin dermatophytosis. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease, 3rd ed., pp. 740–742. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
June 1, 2012
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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