Antifungal Medications | Everything to Know

Antifungal medications are a type of medication used to treat fungal infections.

Although you can get antifungal medicines without a prescription, it is best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about allergies, health conditions, and existing medications before taking them.

How Does Antifungal Medication Work?

Antifungal medications work by either preventing fungi from making copies of their DNA or by targeting and inhibiting the function of proteins that are involved in cell division and replication.

Essentially, an antifungal drug work can prevent and treat fungal infections. Some antifungal medications work by directly killing fungi cells, while others slow the growth of fungi.

Types of Antifungal Medicines

Many different antifungal medications are available, including oral drugs, topical creams and ointments, inhalants to treat fungal infections in the lungs, and intravenous medications for more severe or life-threatening cases.

Some of the common names of different types of antifungal medications include:

  • Fluconazole
  • Itraconazole
  • Miconazole
  • Terbinafine
  • Nystatin
  • Amphotericin B
  • Voriconazole

Antifungal creams and ointments are often a great alternative if you don’t like oral drugs or injections (for obvious reasons). 

Cream-based treatments are typically used for mild or moderate fungal infections, and you can purchase them over the counter at most pharmacies. 

Nystatin cream is an example of a cream-based antifungal medication often prescribed to relieve the symptoms of yeast infections and cure the infection.

Types of Fungal Infections that Antifungal Medicines Can Treat

You can use antifungal medications to treat a wide range of fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections, ringworm, sinusitis, jock itch, and more.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have a fungal infection and are unsure whether an antifungal medication is the right treatment option. They can help you determine the best course of treatment based on your symptoms and overall health.

Considerations Before Using Antifungal Medication

Remember that antifungal medications can have side effects, especially when you take them for a long time or at a high dose. Some common side effects of antifungal medications include nausea, headaches, and vomiting.

You should also check with your GP or pharmacist if you are taking other medications, as certain antifungal drugs can interact with other types of medicine.

For example, azole antifungals such as ketoconazole and fluconazole can interfere with how your body metabolizes medications like cholesterol-lowering statins, blood thinners (e.g., warfarin), and drugs for hormone replacement therapy (e.g., estrogens).

Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers should also use antifungal medications with caution. Always consult your doctor before taking antifungal medicine; if they think it is safe, they will prescribe the right treatment and dosage for you.

Be cautious when using these medications, as they can cause serious side effects if used improperly. If you are experiencing symptoms of a fungal infection, talk to your doctor about the most appropriate treatment for you.

Antifungal Medication Side Effects

In addition to helping treat fungal infections, antifungal medications can also cause some side effects. It’s normal to experience mild side effects when taking these drugs, which will not last long.

However, if you are experiencing more severe side effects or your symptoms don’t go away after a few days of treatment, seek medical attention immediately.

Side Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Redness
  • A rash
  • Burning sensation

More severe side effects include an allergic reaction like anaphylaxis, a skin reaction like blistering, and liver damage. A doctor should address these rare but serious side effects immediately, as they can be life-threatening.

Who Can Get a Fungal Infection?

Anyone can get a fungal infection, but certain factors may make you more vulnerable to these infections. These include:

  • Immune system issues or compromised immunity
  • Weakened bone health and poor nutrition
  • Living in an area with high humidity or moisture levels
  • Using antibiotics often or for long periods

People who have compromised immunity due to certain health conditions or treatments, such as cancer, AIDS, or chemotherapy, may be at a greater risk of developing fungal infections.

How Long Should You Take Antifungal Medications?

The length of your treatment will depend on the severity and type of your fungal infection and how well you respond to the medication. Your doctor may prescribe a course of treatment that lasts anywhere from a few days to several weeks or longer.

Remember that you may need to continue taking antifungal medications even after your infection clears up, as fungal infections can often recur. Ask your doctor about the best course of treatment for your infection, and follow their instructions carefully to avoid re-infection.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor immediately if your fungal infection is severe or does not respond to over-the-counter treatments. Additionally, if you experience serious side effects from your antifungal medication, contact a doctor immediately to discuss your treatment options.

A Note From Health Makes You About Antifungal Medications

Antifungal treatment is your best option for managing fungal infections and avoiding serious or long-term complications. However, learn about the potential side effects and risks before using them.

Please ask a medical professional for advice if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment.

Jude Uchella is a research writer and a strong advocate for health and fitness. He takes pleasure in helping people live their best life. When he's not writing, he's probably researching the next topic to write about. :)