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Antifungal medicines

If you have a fungal infection, such as thrush, athlete's foot, or a nail infection, antifungal medication may be recommended.

The aim of antifungal treatment is to kill the fungus causing the infection and to stop it spreading.

Fungal infections range from those causing mild discomfort to serious invasive forms that can affect the heart, brain, or lungs.

Depending on the type of fungal infection being treated, the antifungal medication may come in different forms:

  • To be applied to the skin, nails, or hair - called topical medication
  • As tablets, capsules, or liquid medication
  • Through an IV drip in hospital or a clinic
  • As a vaginal pessary - commonly as a treatment for thrush.

Common antifungal medications

Common antifungal medications include:

A doctor or pharmacist will advise on the type of antifungal medication for the specific infection. Make sure they know about other medication or supplements you are taking in case of possible interactions between the treatments. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask whether the medication is safe to use.

Some antifungals are only available on prescription.

The time it takes for an infection to clear up and the recommended length of treatment will vary. In some cases this can be several months to a year.

Like any medication, there can be side effects, such as itching from creams or tummy upsets from tablets. The leaflet that comes with the treatment will explain what these might be. If a medication causes too much discomfort, your GP or a pharmacist may be able to recommend an alternative.

In rare cases, allergic reactions or liver problems are possible with antifungal drugs. In these cases, urgent medical advice should be sought.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 18, 2017

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