What is clotrimazole?
Clotrimazole is an antifungal prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of certain fungal infections, including tinea versicolor that is specifically caused by the fungus Malassezia furfur and candidiasis that is specifically caused by the yeast Candida albicans. The troche (lozenge) formulation of clotrimazole is approved for the treatment and prevention of only a certain type of candidiasis—called oropharyngeal candidiasis—in certain people with weakened immune systems. Clotrimazole is also available as an over-the-counter medicine for topically treating various skin infections, such as athlete’s foot.
Oropharyngeal candidiasis (infection of part of the throat) is an example of mucocutaneous candidiasis (also called mucosal candidiasis). Mucocutaneous candidiasis is a Candida yeast infection that affects the skin and mucus membranes (such as in the mouth or vagina). Mucocutaneous candidiasis is an opportunistic infection. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the HIV-related uses of clotrimazole to treat:
- Oropharyngeal candidiasis.
- Uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis, which is another type of mucocutaneous candidiasis that affects the female vulva and vagina.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking clotrimazole?
Before taking clotrimazole, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to clotrimazole or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. The different formulations of clotrimazole have different usage recommendations during pregnancy. Clotrimazole cream and clotrimazole topical solution should be used during the first trimester of pregnancy only if clearly indicated. In clinical trials, use of the cream and topical solution during the second and third trimesters was not associated with ill effects. Whether clotrimazole troche (lozenges) can harm an unborn baby is unknown. The lozenges should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between clotrimazole and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from clotrimazole. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take clotrimazole?
Take clotrimazole according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much clotrimazole to take and when to take it. Before you start clotrimazole and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should clotrimazole be stored?
- Store clotrimazole troches (lozenges) below 86°F (30°C) and avoid freezing.
- Store clotrimazole cream and clotrimazole topical solution between 36°F and 86°F (2°C to 30°C).
- Safely throw away clotrimazole that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
- Keep clotrimazole and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about clotrimazole?
More information about clotrimazole is available:
The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Cream
Last Reviewed: May 7, 2013
Last Updated: May 7, 2013