How Do Topical Antifungals Work?

Reviewed on 6/14/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL ANTIFUNGALS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Topical antifungals are medications used to treat fungal infections, which commonly affect skin, hair, and nails. Fungi are found in all kinds of environments, but most of them do not cause any disease in humans; however, a few species can cause illness.

Fungal infections are caused by:

Topical antifungal medication is a cream, solution, lotion, powder, gel, spray, or lacquer applied to the skin surface to treat a fungal infection. Many antifungals are suitable for both dermatophytes and yeast infections, whereas others are more specific for one or another type of fungus.

Topical antifungals work in two ways:

  • They kill the fungal cells.
  • They prevent the fungal cells to grow and reproduce.

Antifungals target the fungal cell membrane and the fungal cell wall (both structures surround and protect the fungal cells). When either of these structures is compromised, the fungal cell can bursts open causing the contents to leak out and eventually die.

They are applied to the affected area generally twice a day for 2 to 4 weeks and can be obtained over the counter.

HOW ARE TOPICAL ANTIFUNGALS USED?

Conditions treated with topical antifungals include:

SLIDESHOW

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases See Slideshow

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL ANTIFUNGALS?

Common side effects include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Burning and/or stinging
  • Redness
  • Pruritis (itching)
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Pimple-like bumps
  • Tenderness (pain on touch)
  • Dryness of scalp

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF TOPICAL ANTIFUNGALS?

Drug names include:

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/antifungals-topical

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-94304/antifungal-clotrimazole-topical/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a618059.html

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/topical-antifungal-medication/

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