How do antifungal medicines work?
It's normal to have a certain level of naturally occurring fungi in and on your body. Some of these fungi are important to how your body works while others are generally harmless. For example, you have fungi in your digestive system and women have fungi in their vagina.
Antifungal medicines are medications that are used to treat fungal infections. Fungi is all around us, but you normally don’t notice it because their spores are microscopic. Most of these fungi are innocuous, however some types can cause issues in humans.
Fungi reproduce through their microscopic pores and depending on where they reproduce, they can cause infections like yeast infections, nail infections, and ringworm. Inhaling fungal spores can cause respiratory illnesses.
Fungal infections can occur in the:
- Circulatory system
- Skin and nails
- Respiratory system
What are antifungals?
Antifungals are medications that work by killing the fungal cells and stopping them from growing and multiplying. They target the fungal cell wall and fungal cell membrane which are the protective parts of the cell. When they are damaged, the cell dies.
Antifungal medications can effectively treat most common infection types. In rare instances, fungal infections can become very serious. There has been an increased worry in medication resistant fungal infections, but the average person doesn’t need to worry about this. Resistive fungal infections occur most often in people who are already very ill or who are going through chemotherapy.
Some of the conditions antifungals can treat include:
- Vaginal thrush
- Oral thrush
- Athlete’s foot
- Jock itch
- Fingernail infection
- Toenail infection
- Yeast infection
They can also be used to treat more serious fungal infections like pneumocystis pneumonia, blood infections, meningitis, and some types of sinus and eye infections.
Types of Antifungal Drugs
There is a wide range of antifungal drugs to match the diverse amount of fungal infections. They are classified by their chemical structure and how they work. Which one you’ll be prescribed will depend on factors like the type of infection you have and how severe it is.
Antifungals come as:
- A capsule or tablet
- Cream or gel
- An injection
- A pessary
How Long Before Antifungals Work?
How long you will need to take antifungals will depend on the infection type and how severe it is. Some can clear up in a few days or weeks while others can take much longer.
It’s important to take your medication exactly as prescribed so that you can effectively fight off the infection. Improper treatment can cause the infection to come back or become worse. For instance, with untreated oral thrush, there’s a risk it can spread to the oesophagus and other parts of the body.
What is Oral Thrush?
Also known as oral candidiasis, oral thrush is a fungal infection that occurs in the lining of the mouth. Everyone has a certain level of a fungus called candida in their mouth and only causes issues when it overgrows.
An overgrowth of candida can cause creamy white lesions on your tongue, inner cheeks, and the roof of your mouth. Your gums, tonsils, and throat can be affected as well.
Other symptoms of oral thrush in adults are:
- Slightly raised lesions that look like cottage cheese
- Slight bleeding if the lesions are scraped
- Redness or soreness that make it hard to eat and drink
- Cracking and bleeding at the corners of the mouth
- Loss of taste
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Pain in the mouth
Infants and babies with oral thrush may become fussy and irritable because of the symptoms. The lesions can also make it hard for them to feed, preventing them from being able to get enough food and nutrients. While oral thrush isn’t contagious in adults, babies with thrush can spread it to their mother’s nipples when feeding.
Risk Factors for Oral Thrush
Everyone is at risk for oral thrush, but it occurs most often in babies and older adults. This is usually attributed to these groups having a weaker immunity than children and younger adults. Oral thrush can be more severe and harder to cure in people with compromised or weaker immune systems.
People with normal immune system function are often able to fight off harmful bacteria and fungus. However, even people with healthy immune systems may not always be able to control the number of fungus and bacteria that grows. This can allow conditions like oral thrush to develop.
Other risk factors for oral thrush include:
- Medications that lower immunity
- Steroid use
- Taking antibiotics
- Wearing dentures
- Having persistent dry mouth
Oral Thrush Prevention
There are several steps you can take at home to reduce your risk of developing oral thrush, even if you’re in a high risk group. You should:
- Brush your teeth twice per day
- Floss every day
- Brush your cheeks and tongue with a soft brush
- Only use alcohol free mouthwash
- Use your dentures correctly and clean them regularly
- Take your dentures off at night
- Make sure your dentures fit properly
- Attend routine dentist appointments
- Control any health conditions like diabetes
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Drink plenty of water
- Rinse your mouth after using a corticosteroid inhaler
Antifungal Medication from Pharmacy Planet
- Lotriderm: A cream used to treat skin inflammation caused by a fungal infection. It contains a corticoid called Betamethasone dipropionate as well as an antifungal called clotrimazole. The sustained anti-inflammatory, antipruritic, and vasoconstrictive effects of betamethasone are combined with the broad-spectrum antifungal action of clotrimazole to successfully clear up fungal skin infections.
- Fluconazole: An antifungal medication that is used for treating vaginal yeast infections and thrush. Fluconazole acts rapidly to counter the excessive production of Candida relieving the symptoms in a few days. It can also be used preemptively to prevent vaginal infections, to treat meningitis, and to treat thrush that has spread to male partners.