The maker of the antifungal cream Ertaczo (sertaconazole nitrate) received a violation letter from the FDA last week regarding misleading advertisements for the prescription medication, which is used primarily to treat interdigital tinea pedis — more commonly known as athlete’s foot.

While Johnson & Johnson claims the cream eliminates the infection that causes athlete’s foot, clinical trials have shown it to be only modestly effective against tinea. The ads included claims such as “Stops Here and Crush. Kill. Destroy.”

So, what exactly is athlete’s foot — and what medication is your best choice for treating it?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can lead to intense itching, cracked skin, scaling and redness. It can occur on wet skin especially between the toes, or on dry skin around the heels and rest of the foot.

Your best treatment option depends on the condition’s type and severity. In many cases, athlete’s foot can be treated effectively by over-the-counter topical medications like Lamisil, Micatin, Lotrimin AF or Tinactin.

For more severe cases or those that don’t respond to OTC remedies, prescription topicals are the next option. These include Naftin, Mentax, Monistat Derm, Lotrimin and Ertaczo.

When your athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to topical medications, your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal pills, such as Lamisil, Sporanox, and Diflucan.

Which treatment is best for you? There are a large number of antifungal medications on the market, with different active ingredients, so the options are many. One study did find that so-called allylamines (such as Lamisil and Naftin) cured more athlete’s foot infections than azoles (such as Ertaczo and Lotrimin).

As always, however, your best option is to consult with your doctor based on your individual symptoms.