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What Is Econazole Nitrate?

Econazole nitrate can be used to treat athlete's foot.
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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 07 July 2014
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Econazole nitrate is a medication used to treat fungal infections. These infections can appear on any part of the body and may be caused by a number of different fungi. Treatment with econazole nitrate is effective for killing a wide range of fungi though treatment must be continued for two to four weeks in order to be effective.

The medication econazole nitrate is in a class of drugs known as antifungals. These drugs kill various types of fungus that colonize the skin. Affected skin is often itchy and red and may develop small bumps.

Prescribed as a topical cream, it can be rubbed onto the affected area, usually twice daily, until the fungus has been killed. Topical treatment is sufficient for most cases, though severe cases of infection can require treatment with antifungal oral treatment as well as topical treatment with econazole nitrate.

Relief from the symptoms of fungal infection usually starts relatively quickly after commencing treatment. Though symptoms may go away after only a few days, it is important to continue treatment as directed because the fungus can recolonize if it is not completely eradicated. Generally, jock itch and ring worm require treatment for two weeks, while athlete’s foot takes four weeks to be treated.

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Side effects from econazole nitrate are usually mild. People who do report adverse effects may experience stinging, burning, or itching on the area being treated, but in most cases, these symptoms are not severe enough for the patient to stop treatment with econazole nitrate.

It is possible for fungal infections to relapse after treatment with antifungals such as econazole nitrate. Subsequent fungal infections should be treated again and the patient’s doctor should be notified. If the infection persists, an alternate diagnosis may be made or an oral antifungal may be given.

There are three main types of fungal infections that humans experience, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ring worm. Athlete’s foot develops on the bottom of the feet and is highly contagious, easily spreading from one person to another through exposure. Another common condition, jock itch usually affects the area around the groin and inner thighs, though it can spread to other areas where there are folds between the skin. Ring worm can affect any part of the body and usually starts out as a small dot that grows, if left untreated, into a large ring-shaped infection. Ring worm can also cause the hair to break if it develops on the scalp.

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