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What Is Natamycin?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Natamycin, also known as pimaricin, is an antifungal medication. It is primarily prescribed for fungus infections. The drug comes in liquid suspension eye drops, lozenges, and a cream. It is most commonly marketed under the brand name Natacyn®.

As it is not completely absorbed by the body, the medication tends to work best as a topical treatment rather than on a systematic level. Natamycin lozenges are for oral infections and thus do not need to have an effect beyond the oral cavity. The eye drops and cream are likewise applied directly to the infected area.

Natamycin is made via fermentation of streptomyces natalensis, a naturally occurring bacterium. It works by both killing fungus and preventing new growth. The drug is particularly easy on the body because it does not need to be very strong in order to be effective. It also has a low level of toxicity.

There are some conditions which make taking natamycin too high risk. It is formulated specifically to handle fungus and should not be used for viral or bacterial infections. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take the drug. Young children and the elderly may also be more sensitive to the drug and will either not be able to take the drug or be put under special observation by the prescribing doctor.

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It is important to disclose any allergies or drug sensitivities to a doctor before taking natamycin. As negative drug interactions are possible, a patient should also discuss all current medications being taken. Other kinds of eye drops in particular should not be taken at the same time as natamycin.

Though it is a mild medication, there are some possible side effects of taking the drug. These symptoms should only be discussed with a doctor if they worsen or do not eventually go away. Natamycin eye drops can often cause temporary blurred vision. The other most common side effects include swelling, burning, stinging, and redness at the site of application. Severe side effects have traditionally not presented themselves in patients who take the drug.

Natamycin is also used in the food industry. Items such as meats and dairy foods are either sprayed or dipped in the substance in order to prevent the growth of mold. It is typically a highly desirable alternative to less safe chemical treatments and because it does not change the taste of the foods it is treated with.

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