Antifungal drugs


Antifungal drugs
Antifungal drugs

Antifungal medicines are used to treat fungal infections, which most commonly affect your skin, hair and nails.

You can get some antifungal medicines from a pharmacy, without needing a prescription.

Infections antifungals can treat

Fungal infections commonly treated with antifungals include:

Some fungal infections can grow inside the body and need to be treated in hospital.

Examples include:

You're more at risk of getting one of these more serious fungal infections if you have a weakened immune system - for example, if you're taking medicines to suppress your immune system.

Types of antifungal medicines

Antifungal medicines are available as:

  • a cream, gel, ointment or spray 
  • a capsule, tablet or liquid 
  • an injection
  • a pessary: small, soft tablets you can insert into the vagina

Some common names for antifungal medicines include:

  • clotrimazole
  • econazole
  • miconazole
  • terbinafine
  • fluconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • amphotericin

How antifungal medicines work

Antifungal medicines work by either:

  • killing the fungus
  • preventing the fungus from growing 

When to see a pharmacist or GP

See a pharmacist or GP if you think you have a fungal infection. They will advise you on which antifungal medicine is best for you.

If you take too much antifungal medicine, call 111 or speak to a pharmacist or GP.

If you're advised to go to hospital, take the medicine's packaging with you so the healthcare professionals who treat you know what you've taken.

Things to consider when using antifungal drugs

Before taking antifungal medicines, speak to a pharmacist or your GP about:

  • any existing conditions or allergies that may affect your treatment for fungal infection
  • the possible side effects of antifungal medicines
  • whether the antifungal medicine may interact with other medicines you may already be taking 
  • whether your antifungal medicine is suitable to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding - many aren't suitable

You can also check the patient information leaflet that comes with your antifungal medicine for more information.

Side effects of antifungal medicines

Your antifungal medicines may cause side effects. These are usually mild and do not last long.

They can include:

  • itching or burning
  • redness
  • tummy (abdominal) pain
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick
  • a rash

Occasionally, your antifungal medicine may cause a more severe reaction, such as:

  • an allergic reaction - your face, neck or tongue may swell and you may have difficulty breathing
  • a severe skin reaction - such as peeling or blistering skin
  • liver damage (very rarely) - you may experience loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, jaundice, dark pee or pale poo, tiredness or weakness

Stop using the medicine if you have these severe side effects, and see your GP or pharmacist to find an alternative.

If you're having difficulty breathing, visit the accident and emergency (A&E) department if your nearest hospital or call 999.

Reporting side effects

If you suspect that a medicine has made you unwell, you can report this side effect through the Yellow Card Scheme.

Antifungal medicines for children

Some antifungal medicines can be used on children and babies. For example, miconazole oral gel can be used to treat oral thrush in babies.

But different doses are usually needed for children of different ages. Ask a pharmacist or speak to your GP for more advice.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 17/07/2023 13:26:13