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Fungal cream

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

Antifungal creams are sometimes called fungal creams, and are used to treat fungal infections. The creams are mainly used for skin and nail infections, whereas tablets are usually used for more widespread skin and internal infections. Different antifungal creams are used for different types of skin, vaginal or nail infections so we’ll explain some of them in detail, and their different uses.

Doctor’s advice

Names of antifungals

Drug names for the different antifungals include; clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, tioconazole, terbinafine and amorolfine.

Some of these come with a combination cream with hydrocortisone in them because the hydrocortisone can be used to help reduce redness, inflammation and at times itching. 


This comes in 2 strengths (1% and 2%) and also comes as a combination with hydrocortisone. The 1% cream is mainly used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, nappy rash or sweat rash but you might need the one with hydrocortisone if there is a lot of redness.   The 2% cream is mainly used for vaginal thrush (which is also available as a pessary). The 2% cream can also be applied to treat fungal nail infections but isn’t as effective as antifungal nail lacquers. Clotrimazole cream is safe to use in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Econazole and ketoconazole

Econazole is used for ringworm, tinea versicolor and fungal skin infections. It can also be used for vaginal thrush, either via a cream or pessary and in pregnancy it can be used during the 1st trimester (the first third of pregnancy) but only if the doctor considers it essential. It is best to avoid it in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, but possible to use it if the benefit outweighs the risk. 

Ketoconazole comes as a cream or a shampoo. The cream is used for athlete’s foot, sweat rash, and pityriasis versicolor and the shampoo is used for dandruff and also as a wash for pityriasis versicolour. (Here at Healthwords we prefer the shampoo over the cream for pityriasis versicolor.)


This comes as a cream and a nail lacquer.  We don’t really tend to prescribe the cream and so the nail lacquer is sometimes used for early stage fungal nail infections, although commonly antifungal tablets (terbinafine) will be required if nail lacquers fail to work.

When using antifungal creams, always remember to wash your hands after using them to help prevent any infection spreading to other parts of your body. Use separate towels and flannels from anyone else too until a fungal infection has cleared up. Because these types of infection usually occur in warm, moist areas of the body, make sure that all areas of your skin are dried well after having a bath or shower, especially between your toes and in your groin, armpits and under your breasts.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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