Clotrimazole treats fungal skin infections, such as athlete's foot.
Use it two or three times each day.
Continue to use the preparation for a week or so after all signs of the infection have gone.
About clotrimazole for skin infections
|Type of medicine||An antifungal|
|Used for||Fungal skin infections|
|Available as||Cream, spray and topical solution|
Although many types of fungi live harmlessly on our skin, some can cause infections. The most common fungi to cause skin infections are the tinea group of fungi. Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the toes and feet caused by a fungus from this group. Infections caused by a fungus or a yeast (a type of fungus) can affect other parts of the body too - some examples are fungal nappy rash, fungal groin infections, and fungal sweat rashes. Clotrimazole eases the symptoms of skin infections such as these, by killing the fungi causing the infection.
Although clotrimazole is available on prescription, you can also buy some preparations without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets. It is available as a cream, as a spray and as a topical solution (a liquid which is applied directly on to the skin). The cream is most frequently used but, where large areas of skin are infected or where the area of the body which is being treated is quite hairy, a spray or topical solution may be more suitable. Sometimes clotrimazole is combined in a cream with a mild corticosteroid called hydrocortisone (as in the brand called Canesten® HC). This cream is prescribed when the infection has caused the skin to become inflamed and sore.
Clotrimazole is a medicine which is also used to treat fungal infections on areas of the body other than the skin. For example, it is used to treat vaginal thrush and some ear infections. There is more information about the preparations used to treat these conditions in the separate medicine leaflets called Clotrimazole for vaginal thrush and Clotrimazole for ear infections.
Before using clotrimazole for skin infections
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using clotrimazole make sure that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Although clotrimazole is not known to be harmful to babies, you should only use medicines on the recommendation of a doctor while you are expecting or breast-feeding a baby.
- If you are taking any other medicines or using any other creams. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine or cream.
How to use clotrimazole for skin infections
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about clotrimazole and how to apply it.
- Wash and dry the infected area of skin before you apply clotrimazole. You will need to use it regularly for a few weeks. Once all signs of your infection have gone, continue to use it for a further one or two weeks, as this will help to prevent the infection from coming back.
- If you are using cream, apply a thin layer and then rub it in gently. Use the cream two or three times a day.
- If you are using spray, use it two or three times a day and be careful to make sure that all of the infected area has been covered by the spray.
- If you are using solution, apply it two or three times a day and gently rub it in. A few drops will treat an area about the size of a hand.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Remember to wash your hands carefully after using clotrimazole, as this will help to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body. Also, use a separate towel to other people until your infection clears up.
- Fungal infections often occur in warm, moist areas of the body. After washing or showering, make sure that all areas of your skin are dried well, particularly areas such as skin folds and between your toes.
- As a guide, infections such as athelete's foot usually clear up within a week or so of treatment, although infections affecting some other areas of the body can take slightly longer. If there are no signs of improvement after two weeks of using clotrimazole, you should make an appointment to see your doctor for advice.
Can clotrimazole cause problems?
Clotrimazole is unlikely to cause any serious side-effects. It can occasionally cause some irritation when it is used at first, and a few people experience mild allergic-type reactions (such as redness and itching). If you experience these or any other symptoms, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store clotrimazole
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
This preparation is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Canesten® Cream; Bayer plc, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2013.
- British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson