Recurrence of toenail funugus (onychomycosis) and athlete's foot (tinea pedis) can affect as many as 87% of poditary patients. People suffering from toenail fungus and athlete's foot are typcially treated using an orally adminstered drug such as itraconazole. It is thought that re-infection occurs because patients wear shoes and socks that are contaminated with fomites carrying the fungal infection. Fomites may also be found around the patient's home.
Bristow and Turner (2009) describe a case study involving a 59 year old male who has had a history of toenail fungus and athlete's foot for 18 years. Two courses of oral itraconazole had both lead to an improvement. However, within 6 months of the treatment finishing reinfection occured.
A new course of treatment was instigated. This involved a 12 week prescription of itraconazole (200mg per day) and a 5% amorolfine topical nail lacquer. In order to help the topical nail lacquer penetrate the nail plate a podiatry drill was used to reduce the affected toenails. Instead of wearing his normal socks, the patient was given four pairs of Cupron Antifungal Socks which he was asked to wear.
"The socks contain traces of copper oxide woven into the material but still look and feel like ordinary socks."
Prior to this course of treatment the patient was found to have positive mycology, however after four weeks the mycology was negative. The patient continued to wear the antifungal socks on the advice of his podiatrist. He bought more antifungal socks and did not suffer from recurrence for a year.
A study by Zatcoff et al. (2007) of 56 patients between 21 and 85 years old demonstrated that treatment of athlete's foot benefitted from the use of copper impregnated socks. It is recommended that further research be carried out into the effective of wearing antifungal socks to reduce the amount of recurrence of fungal toenails and athlete's foot.
Bristow, I. and Turner, A. (2009). Antifungal socks as part of a regime to prevent recurrence of tinea pedis and onychomycosis., Podiatry Now, 12, 10, October 2009.
Zatcoff, R., Smith., M.S., Borkow, G. (2007). Treatment of Tinea Pedis with Socks Containing Copper Impregnated Fibres., The Foot, 18, 3, September 2007.