How Do Topical Sulfonamides Work?

Reviewed on 6/7/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL SULFONAMIDES AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Topical sulfonamides (also called sulfa drugs) are a group of synthetic medicines that contain sulfanilamide (a sulfur-containing chemical). They are used to treat bacterial infections and a few dermatological conditions. These drugs do not work for viral infections such as cold or flu.

Topical sulfonamides work in the following ways:

  • Humans and bacteria both need folic acid, a naturally occurring B vitamin, which helps in making DNA and other genetic material.
  • Humans obtain it from their diet, whereas bacteria need to synthesize it for their cell formation (nucleic acid synthesis).
  • Sulfonamides interfere in folic acid synthesis because of their structural similarity to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in bacterial cells.
  • PABA inhibits dihydropterate synthetase, an enzyme that facilitates PABA as a substrate for the synthesis of dihydrofolic acid (folic acid).
  • Inhibition of folic acid stops the cell formation in bacteria, which does not allow them to grow and reproduce.
  • Sulfonamides are bacteriostatic (capable of killing bacteria) to susceptible organisms.
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HOW ARE TOPICAL SULFONAMIDES USED?

Topical sulfonamides are used in conditions such as:

QUESTION

Ringworm is caused by a fungus. See Answer

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL SULFONAMIDES?

Avoid contact with eyes or mucous membranes.

Common 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 SULFONAMIDES?

Drug names include:                               

  • Klaron
  • Ovace plus
  • Ovace plus shampoo
  • Ovace plus wash
  • Ovace wash
  • Sulfacetamide topical
References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/sulfonamides-topical

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/sulfa-drugs-and-the-skin/

https://bpac.org.nz/bpj/2012/december/sulfonamides.aspx

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-in/professional/infectious-diseases/bacteria-and-antibacterial-drugs/sulfonamides

https://www.medicinenet.com/sulfonamides-oral/article.htm#what_are_sulfonamides

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