Clotrimazole is an antifungal medicine.
It's used to treat skin infections caused by a fungus (yeast).
Clotrimazole treats different types of fungal infections including:
- athlete's foot
- fungal nail infection
- infected nappy rash
- rash in folds of skin (intertrigo)
If you're looking for information on treating thrush, read clotrimazole for thrush.
Clotrimazole is available as a cream, spray and a solution that you put on your skin. The treatment you use will depend on where the infection is on your body.
You can buy clotrimazole from a pharmacy or supermarket.
- It usually takes 7 days for fungal infections to improve.
- Apply clotrimazole to the infected area 2 or 3 times a day for at least 2 weeks.
- The most common side effect of clotrimazole is irritation in the area where you apply the treatment.
- Clotrimazole is also known by the brand name Canesten.
Clotrimazole cream, spray and solution can be used by most adults and children.
Clotrimazole is not suitable for everyone. To make sure it's safe for you, tell a doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to clotrimazole or any other medicines in the past.
How long you use clotrimazole for depends on the type of infection you have.
It's best to use it for at least 2 weeks, even if all signs of the infection have gone, to stop it from coming back. It can be used for up to 4 weeks if needed.
Apply clotrimazole to the affected area 2 to 3 times a day. It will work better if you use it 3 times a day.
If the affected area is large or hairy, it's best to use either the spray or solution.
If you're using clotrimazole on your feet, make sure you wash and thoroughly dry your feet, especially between your toes, before applying clotrimazole.
How to use clotrimazole cream
Apply clotrimazole cream to the affected area. Use the cream on your skin only. A strip of cream (0.5cm long) is enough to treat an area the size of your hand. Avoid putting it near your mouth, lips and eyes.
How to use clotrimazole spray
If you're using the spray for the first time, prepare the spray by pressing the spray head down once or twice.
Hold and spray about 15cm away from the affected area.
How to use clotrimazole solution
The solution comes in a bottle with a plastic "dropper" which lets the solution out in drops.
Apply clotrimazole solution thinly and evenly to the affected areas.
A few drops of clotrimazole solution should be enough to cover an area the size of a hand.
If your ear is infected, put 2 to 3 drops of clotrimazole solution into your ear.
What if I forget to use it?
If you forget to use your treatment, do not worry. Just apply it as soon as you remember and then keep following your usual routine.
What if I use too much?
If you use too much clotrimazole cream, spray or solution or use it more often than you need to, it may make your skin red or irritated. If this happens, use less the next time.
Like all medicines, clotrimazole can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Side effects usually go away when you stop using it.
Common side effects
Talk to a pharmacist or doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- red, irritated skin
- pain or a burning or stinging sensation
If the side effects do not go away, try using a smaller amount of the treatment or stop using it completely.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to clotrimazole.
Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of clotrimazole. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
Clotrimazole is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy.
Clotrimazole and breastfeeding
Clotrimazole is generally considered safe to use while you're breastfeeding.
If your baby is being treated for oral thrush you can carry on breastfeeding but you'll need to be treated at the same time. Apply clotrimazole cream on and around your nipples after each time you breastfeed your baby.
Tell a pharmacist or doctor if you're trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or if you're breastfeeding.
Some medicines can affect the way clotrimazole works. They can also make you more likely to get side effects.
Tell a doctor before using clotrimazole if you are using Sofradex ear drops. Do not use these in your ear at the same time as clotrimazole.
Mixing clotrimazole with herbal remedies and supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements while using clotrimazole.
For safety, tell a pharmacist or doctor if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
How does clotrimazole work?
Clotrimazole works by killing the fungus (yeast) that is causing the infection.
Clotrimazole kills fungus by causing holes to appear in its cell membrane and the contents leak out. This kills the fungus and treats the infection.
How long does it take to work?
The symptoms of fungal infections, such as itching or soreness, should get better within a few days of treatment. Red and scaly skin may take longer to get better.
You may need treatment for 1 to 4 weeks.
Keep using clotrimazole for 2 weeks even if your symptoms have gone. This will stop the infection coming back.
Talk to a doctor if your symptoms do not get better within 7 days.
What if it does not work?
Talk to a doctor if your symptoms do not get better within 7 days. You may need a longer course of treatment or a stronger medicine.
Is it safe to use for a long time?
Do not use clotrimazole cream, spray or solution for more than 4 weeks, unless a doctor tells you to.
A fungal infection can become resistant to clotrimazole, which means it will no longer work properly.
Are there other similar medicines?
There are other antifungal medicines that are similar to clotrimazole, including:
- econazole (cream)
- miconazole (cream, spray powder, powder)
- ketoconazole (cream)
- terbinafine (cream, gel, spray, solution)
- griseofulvin (spray)
These are all available to buy from a pharmacy.
Will it affect my contraception?
Will it affect my fertility?
Clotrimazole treatments have no effect on the fertility of men or women.
Can I drink alcohol?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while using clotrimazole.
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
No, you can eat and drink normally while using clotrimazole.
Can lifestyle changes help fungal infections?
If you have a fungal skin infection, these tips may help:
- do not scratch the area with the infection as this will damage the surface of the skin and the infection could spread
- keep the affected areas of skin clean
- keep the affected areas of skin dry where possible, but do not rub too much with a towel
- do not share towels with other people as you could spread the infection to them
- always wash your hands after treating the infection to stop it from spreading
Athlete's foot — Link to Related Condition
Ringworm — Link to Related Condition
Fungal nail infection — Link to Related Condition
Clotrimazole: forum — Link to Useful Resource
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