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Antifungal drugs (antifungal agents)

Antifungal drugs help with fungal infections

Fungi often attack the skin, mucous membranes or nails. Only in rare cases is an entire organ or the entire body affected by the fungal attack. You treat fungal infections (mycoses) with an antifungal agent.

Areas of application of antifungal agents

Doctors use antifungal drugs to treat different types of fungal infections. These include:

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While fungal diseases of the skin and mucous membranes are usually harmless and easily treatable, system or organ mycoses can be life-threatening. Of these are v. a. Affected people with a compromised immune system. Antifungal drugs that can be administered intravenously help with systemic mycoses.

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How antifungal drugs work

One can roughly distinguish between antifungal agents that use the Inhibit the multiplication or growth of the fungus (fungistatic effect) and means that the Kill the fungus (fungicidal effect).

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The variety of antifungal agents and dosage forms is huge. If you have new symptoms, your doctor or pharmacist will help you choose the right product.

In addition, medical professionals subdivide the active ingredients into several according to their chemical composition Subgroups. The most important active ingredient groups or active ingredients of the antifungal agents are briefly presented below:

  • Azole antifungals (azoles) are relatively modern active ingredients among the antifungal agents. They develop their effect by influencing the metabolism of the fungal cells. They have a broad spectrum of activity: They work against a large number of types of fungus. The azole antifungal agents include active ingredients such as Clotrimazole, Bifonazole, Econazole, Isoconazole, Ketoconazole, Miconazole and Sertaconazole.
  • Allylamines are also antifungal agents that intervene in the fungus's metabolism and thus prevent it from growing.
  • The active substance Amorolfin hinders the development of the mushrooms. This affects the viability of the mushrooms.
  • Caspofungin is an active ingredient that doctors only use for severe fungal infections. You will give caspofungin by injection.
  • The antifungal agent Ciclopirox also acts on the metabolism of the fungal cells. It ensures that harmful metabolic products are created that lead to the death of the fungal cells.
  • Flucytosine acts like a poison in the cells of the fungus. The active ingredient is used to treat organ mycosis, i. H. if the fungus has already infected an entire organ.
  • Thiocarbamates such as B. Tolnaftat belong to the fungistatic active ingredients because they prevent the fungus from multiplying.
  • Polyene antibiotics fight the fungus by influencing and blocking metabolic processes in the fungal cells. Belong to this group Nystatin and Amphotericin B.

Which antifungal agent is suitable for treatment depends on which fungal disease is present and which part of the body is affected by the fungal attack. At Skin fungus is Clotrimazole a commonly used antifungal agent. In addition, clotrimazole can also be used in drugs to treat Vaginal fungus be included. Nail fungus is however with Amorolfin treated. Ketoconazole is suitable for treating a seborrheic eczema.

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Even the very little ones are often affected by fungal diseases. For example, breastfed infants tend to get infected with fungus from the maternal nipple area. This can result in thrush in the mouth and diaper area. Fortunately, there are already suitable preparations for this age. It is important to treat all affected areas of mother and child until they have healed. Otherwise a new infection is likely soon.

Dosage forms of antifungal drugs

Antifungal drugs come in the form of creams, ointments, or sprays that can be applied to the skin. When treating nail fungus, those affected also apply the antifungal agent in the form of a nail polish.

For the treatment of fungal diseases on the mucous membrane in the oral cavity, antifungal drugs are available in the form of drops or lozenges.

If the fungal disease affects the intimate area of ​​the woman, a combination treatment is often necessary in order to achieve long-term success. The area of ​​the vulva (the external genitalia) is treated with an antifungal ointment. Appropriate suppositories are available for therapy in the vaginal area.

If the fungal infection is severe and the fungus has spread at an advanced stage, doctors also give the antifungal agent as an injection.

Discomfort when giving antifungal agents: side effects of antifungal drugs

With locally applied antimycotics, the side effects usually occur in the area of ​​the treated area. An antifungal ointment can sometimes lead to skin irritations such as itching, burning and mild pain. Systemically administered fungal medication puts more stress on the body. In addition to skin irritation, there may be headaches, gastrointestinal complaints and elevated liver values. The level of potassium in the blood may also drop.

Contraindications: Contraindication for antifungal drugs

Sometimes patients should not be allowed to use certain antifungal drugs. So is most antifungal medicines of one Indication for pregnancy or breastfeeding not advised. In particular, triazoles such as fluconazole and itraconazole as well as amphotericin B and caspofungin are not prescribed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Other agents, on the other hand, can also be used for therapy in pregnant and breastfeeding women after careful risk-benefit assessment. They include clotrimazole, bifonazole and nystatin.

People with severe heart failure must not use triazoles such as fluconazole, voriconazole and itraconazole to treat fungal diseases. In patients with impaired liver or kidney function, the attending physician weighs up the risk-benefit for the administration of the active substances mentioned. Terbinafine and griseofulvin, on the other hand, should not be prescribed for impaired liver function.


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For information on risks and side effects, read the package insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

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As of: 19.10.2020

For reasons of better legibility, the male form is used in the text for personal names. It goes without saying, however, that the information relates to members of both sexes.