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Oral Antifungal

Antifungal and functions

Fungal infections may sound dangerous and extreme but there are actually caused by fungi that are common in the environment. Fungi is an organisms that can be found in soil, on plants, trees and other vegetation, and on our skin, mucous membranes and intestinal tracts. Some fungi can be harmful to health by acting as pathogens or toxins. Fungal infection traditionally can be cathegorize into common fungal infections and invasive fungal infection. Common fungal infections can be mild, such as a rash or mild respiratory illness. Invasive fungal infections can occur deep inside the body’s tissue and can lead to serious complications such as meningitis or death. Antifungal drugs are used to treat fungal infections and the choice of antifungal medications depends on its dose and the duration of treatment. The type of fungus, site of affected and co-existing disease is the main cateria to prescibed the medication.

Oral Antifungal

Majority of the oral antifungal medications are prescription-only medicines and are available in various dosage forms such as tablets, capsules and suspensions. They should only be used under close supervision by healthcare professionals.

Antifungal medication works by either killing the fungal cells or preventing the fungal cells from growing and reproducing. Fungal cells are killed by affecting a substance in the cell wall which will cause the contents of the cell to leak out and eventually the fungal cell will die.

Types of oral antifungal

Oral antifungal medications can be classified into a few classes; Polyene antifungals, Imidazole antifungals, Triazole antifungals and others.

Drug Name
Pharmaceutical Form
Polyene antifungals
  • Nystatin
  • Suspension, Tablet
Imidazole antifungals
  • Ketoconazole
  • Tablet
Tiazole antifungals
  • Fluconazole
  • Itraconazole
  • Voriconazole
  • Capsule
  • Capsule, Solution
  • Tablet
Others antifungals
  • Flucytosine
  • Griseofulvin
  • Terbinafine
  • Tablet
  • Tablet
  • Tablet

How to take oral antifungal

Oral antifungal medication should be taken as a whole exactly as it is prescribe. Its should be taken after food to give better effect by increasing the absorption. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instruction. For best results, antifungal medication should be taken at the same time every day.

For solution form antifungal medications, shake well before used. Measure the right dose prescribed using a measuring device and swallow. However in cases where the mouth being inffected, suspension of the medicine should be swished around the entire mouth and retained in the mouth for as long as possible (several minutes) before swallowing.

In case of missed dose, do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose. Take the missed dose as soon as remembered and skip the missed dose if it is almost scheduled for the next dose.

Side effects

The side effects for antifungal medications depend on the type and dose of medications used. The most common side effects for antifungal medicines are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, some antifungal may cause mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, unusual fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, pale stools and palpitation. These side effects do not require medical treatment, however persistent side effect may need consultation from healthcare professionals.

Some patients facing severe side effects like fever, chills, skin rash or itching, high blood pressure, hair loss, aneroxia, or delusions after using the antifungal medications. Side effects like respiratory distress, elevated liver enzymes and deterioration in renal function should be monitored closely by healthcare professionals and need to be treated immediately.

Other rare side effects are possible. Anyone who has unusual symptoms after taking antifungal medications should inform their healthcare professionals.

Special precautions

People with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain other medicines should inform their healthcare professionals before taking antifungal medications as they may interfere with this medicines.

Anyone who has had unusual reactions to antifungal drugs in the past should let the healthcare physician know about the problem before taking the drugs again. The healthcare professionals should also be told about any allergies to foods, dyes, preservatives, or other substances.

Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or are breasfeeding should inform their physicians or pharmacists before taking any oral antifungal medication.

Before using antifungal medications, people with any of these medical problems should also make sure their healthcare professionals are aware of their conditions:

  • current or past alcohol abuse
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease.

Taking antifungal medications with certain other drugs or food may cause interaction and affect the way the drugs work or the risk of side effects may be greater. Grapefruit juice should be avoided as it may decrease oral bioavailability of antifungal medications. Unwanted side effects may be increase if alcohol and caffeine is taken together with medication.


Store antifungal medication at room temperature, 20 to 25 degrees C. Suspenstion and solution should be in a tightly closed and light-resistant container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep medication out of the reach of children and away from pets. All expired antifungal medication should be discard and disposed.

References in case of overdose

Seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible, if antifungal medications was taken more than the dose required or have any signs of severe allergic reaction.

Other than that, can contact toll free line for any enquiries;

    1. Pusat Racun Negara
      Tel: 1-800-88-8099


  1. National Pharmacy Call Center
    Tel: 1-800-88-6722
Last reviewed : 15 November 2013
Writer : Ilina Arin bt. Jamaludin