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Antifungal tablet

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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These are antifungal tablets, taken by mouth to treat fungal infections. These can be prescribed by a doctor when topical (creams and washes) antifungals are not helping to clear up the infection. In certain cases, if the infection is severe or widespread or internal, then oral antifungals may be prescribed first by your doctor. There are a number of groups of antifungal tablets ranging from ones available over the counter to those requiring specialist prescribing. These are known as the Triazole, Imidazole, Polyene, Echinocandin and other antifungals.

Doctor’s advice

Triazole antifungals

Itraconazole

This is used for oral thrush, fungal infection in the lungs, fungal nail infections and pityriasis versicolour.  This interacts with a lot of prescribed medication so should be used in caution.  It should not be taken during pregnancy unless life-threatening intervention is needed and should be avoided in breastfeeding as it can accumulate in the milk.

Fluconazole

This is mainly used for treating vaginal thrush, where it is taken as a one-off dose of 150mg.  If you have recurrent thrush, then a 6-month course might be recommended at 150mg every 72 hours for 3 doses, then once a week for 6 weeks.  It should not be taken in pregnancy and can be taken when breastfeeding. It is also used in oral thrush where a 50mg dose is given for 7-14 days.

Imidazole antifungals

The imidazole antifungals include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, econazole, and tioconazole. These are used for the local treatment of vaginal thrush and for skin infections. Another type called miconazole can also be used for mouth infections and can be effective in treating fungal gut infections.

Polyene antifungals

These antifungals include amphotericin B and nystatin. Neither of these can be given as a tablet because they’re not absorbed when given by mouth. Nystatin is used for mouth infections by local application as well as for treating Candida skin infections. Amphotericin B is an intravenous treatment (given through a drip into a vein) for the treatment of systemic fungal infections and is active against most fungi and yeasts.

Echinocandin antifungals

Echinocandin antifungals include anidulafungin, caspofungin and micafungin. They are not commonly used and are only effective against Aspergillus and Candida infections.

Other antifungals

Terbinafine tablets are used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, sweat rash, fungal nails and pityriasis versicolor but are only given if the creams haven’t worked. In fungal nail infections, this is taken as 250mg once a day for 6 weeks to 3 months or longer. It’s important to check liver function before starting the tablets and one month after as it can cause liver dysfunction. It is best to avoid both in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
EmailFacebookPinterestTwitter