Episode # 9 Anti-Fungal
Show Notes: The links shown below are the basis of the podcast episode information and contain information in the podcast and more. Please talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist for further information and clarification.
- Episode Links
How do antifungal drugs work?
Antifungal medications usually workTrusted Source either by killing the fungal cells or stopping them from growing and multiplying.
Parts of the cell that the antifungal drugs target include the fungal cell membrane and the fungal cell wall. These are both protective parts of the cell that can cause the cell to leak and die when damaged.
Human bodies do not have these structures, meaning antifungal drugs can target the fungi without harming the body’s cells.
People often want to treat a fungal nail infection because they think it looks unpleasant. Treatment can also keep the nail from thickening and the infection from spreading.
Nail fungus can be treated topically (from the outside) with over-the-counter colorless nail polishes. They generally contain the ingredients amorolfine or ciclopirox. These substances stop the fungus from growing or kill it. They have to be applied regularly, sometimes for over a year. As well as nail polishes, there are also treatment sets that remove the infected part of the nail over two weeks. This involves using a urea-based cream to soften it first, and then scraping it off with a spatula. The skin beneath is then treated for a few weeks with a cream that contains the drug bifonazole.
Topical treatments aren’t very effective. Tablets are usually needed to get rid of a fungal nail infection. They typically contain the drugs itraconazole or terbinafine. The choice of medication will depend on a number of factors, including what kind of fungus is causing the infection. The tablets usually have to be taken for at least three months to treat fungal toenail infections. Fungal fingernail infections may only need to be treated for six weeks. The tablets may have side effects, such as stomach or bowel problems. There’s also a risk of liver damage, but that’s very rare.
Symptoms of a fungal infection
- Ringworm: This presentsTrusted Source with a ring-shaped rash, and itchy, red, scaly, and cracked skin. Depending on its location, ringworm may cause a person to experience hair loss.
- Oral thrush: White patches may cover the inside of the mouth and throat, including on the tongue. There may also be redness present. A person may experience pain while swallowing or eating.
- Jock itch: People with jock itch may notice scaly, itchy, red spots, usually on the inner sides of the skin folds of their thigh.
- Athlete’s foot: A person with athlete’s foot may notice that they have red, swollen, itchy, and sometimes peeling skin between their toes.
- Vaginal yeast infection: Symptoms may includeTrusted Source abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal itchiness, soreness, pain during penetrative sex, and pain when urinating.
- Onychomycosis: Hands or feet with fungal infections often haveTrusted Source thick, yellow, brown, white, or otherwise discolored nails. They may also be fragile or cracked.
- Coccidioidomycosis: Valley feverTrusted Source causes a person to experience fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, night sweats, and muscle ache. They may also have a cough and notice a rash.
Types of fungal infections
The most common typesTrusted Source of fungal infection are:
- Ringworm: People also know ringworm as tinea or dermatophytosis. It is a common infection of the skin caused by any of around 40Trusted Source different species of fungi. It can occur on the scalp, feet, or anywhere else on the skin.
- Oral thrush: Caused by a yeast called Candida, this infection occurs when something affects the environment inside the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
- Vaginal yeast infection: The yeast that usually lives in the body and on the skin causes this infection. If something disrupts the environment inside the vagina, the yeast can multiply and cause an infection.
- Onychomycosis: Fungal nail infections can occur on the hands, but most commonly occur on the toenails. Fungi cause these infections when they enter the nail through small cracks in the nail or skin around it.
- Coccidioidomycosis: A fungus that lives in the soil in the southwestern United States causes coccidioidomycosis, which is also known as valley fever.
Types of antifungal medicines
You can get antifungal medicines as:
- a cream, gel, ointment or spray
- a capsule, tablet or liquid
- an injection
- a pessary: a small and soft tablet you put inside the vagina
Common names for antifungal medicines include:
- clotrimazole (Canesten)
- terbinafine (Lamisil)
- fluconazole (Diflucan)
- ketoconazole (Daktarin)
- nystatin (Nystan)
Created: January 14, 2015; Last Update: June 14, 2018; Next update: 2021.
If your nails become brittle or change color, it might be caused by a fungal nail infection. The big toenails are often affected. Nail fungus is less common on the fingernails.
Fungal nail infections are hard to get rid of. Because our toenails only grow slowly, treatment generally takes a long time and requires patience. It can take several months to work.
Whitish-yellowish or brownish discoloration of the nails is a sign of nail fungus. The nails may become brittle (crumbly), thicker and change shape. Sometimes they hurt too. The affected part of the nail may detach from the nail bed. Fungal nail infections are also referred to as “onychomycosis.”
The big toenails are often affected. In the vast majority of people, the fungus develops at the front or side edge of the nail. It is less common for the infection to start at the base of the nail. This most commonly happens in people with a severely weakened immune system – following a serious illness, for instance. It might also occur after an organ transplantation because people have to take medication that suppresses the immune system.