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OBJECTIVE: To systematically review literature enabling the comparison of the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatments for tinea pedis in adults. DESIGN: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with mycological cure as the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes did include the clinical assessment of resolving infection or symptoms, duration of treatment, adverse events, adherence, and recurrence. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Study participants suffering from only tinea pedis that were treated with a pharmaceutical treatment. The study must have been conducted using an RCT study design and recording age of the participant > 16 years of age. RESULTS: A total of seven studies met the inclusion criteria, involving 1042 participants. The likelihood of resolution in study participants treated with terbinafine was RR 3.9 (95% CI: 2.0-7.8) times those with a placebo. Similarly, the allylamine butenafine was effective by RR 5.3 (95% CI: 1.4-19.6) compared to a placebo. Butenafine was similarly efficacious to terbinafine RR 1.3 (95% CI: 0.4-4.4). Terbinafine was marginally more efficacious than itraconazole, RR 1.3 (95% CI: 1.1-1.5). SUMMARY/CONCLUSION: Topical terbinafine and butenafine treatments of tinea pedis were more efficacious than placebo. Tableted terbinafine and itraconazole administered orally were efficacious in the drug treatment of tinea pedis fungal infection. We are concerned about how few studies were available that reported the baseline characteristics for each treatment arm and that did not suffer greater than 20% loss to follow-up. We would like to see improved reporting of clinical trials in academic literature. Registration name: Treatment's for athlete's foot-systematic review with meta-analysis [CRD42020162078].

Original publication




Journal article


J Fungi (Basel)

Publication Date





athlete’s foot, tinea pedis, treatment