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What Is a Topical Antifungal?

Topical antifungal creams can treat athlete's foot.
A topical antifungal cream.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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A topical antifungal is a medication applied to the skin to help clear up a fungal infection. Different types of antifungals may contain different active ingredients, and many of them are available without a prescription. These types of antifungals are considered to be quite safe, and there are typically very few reported side effects.

Topical antifungals can come in many forms. A cream antifungal is one of the most common. A topical antifungal, however, may also be available as a spray or a gel.

Using a topical antifungal is quite simple. It is rubbed onto the affected area, usually two to three times per day. These types of antifungals should also be applied to the area surrounding the infection as well.

To prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of the body, special care should be taken when applying an antifungal cream. For instance, gloves should be worm when applying the cream or hands should be thoroughly washed afterward. Also, the tip of the container should never touch the infected area.

It will usually take a couple of weeks of topical antifungal treatment for a fungal rash to disappear. Even after the rash is gone, however, an individual should continue to apply a topical fungal to the area. This will help kill any remaining fungi.

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Most fungal infections, such as athletes foot or yeast infections, can be cleared up using an over-the-counter topical antifungal cream. Different brands often contain different antifungal agents. If one brand does not clear up the infection, another brand might.

If over-the-counter topical antifungals do not clear up a fungal infection, a sufferer may need a stronger medication. Some doctors may prescribe a topical antifungal in this case. Generally, these antifungals will contain a higher concentration of medicine.

Some common antifungals may include clotrimazole, miconazole, and tioconazole. A topical antifungal may also contain an ingredient to help relieve certain symptoms of a fungal infection, such as itching. Hydrocortisone is commonly found in antifungal creams.

Although antifungal creams are generally considered safe, there is a chance that a user will suffer from mild side effects. Burning, itching, and redness are some of the most commonly reported side effects of topical antifungals. An individual should stop using an antifungal cream and consult a doctor if these side effects are severe. Medical attention is also recommended if an allergic reaction occurs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include peeling or blistering of the skin.

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