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Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
Trade names Lotrimin, Desenex, Canesten
AHFS/ monograph
MedlinePlus a682753
Pregnancy cat. A (AU) C (oral) and B (topical) (US)
Legal status OTC (topical), prescription (oral) (US)
Routes topical, troche
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability Poor oral absorption (troche), negligible absorption through intact skin (topical)
Protein binding 90%
Metabolism hepatic
Half-life 2 hours
CAS number 23593-75-1 YesY
ATC code A01AB18 D01AC01 G01AF02 QJ02AB90
PubChem CID 2812
DrugBank DB00257
ChemSpider 2710 YesY
UNII G07GZ97H65 YesY
KEGG D00282 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C22H17ClN2 
Mol. mass 344.837 g/mol
 YesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Clotrimazole (brand name Canesten or Lotrimin) is an antifungal medication commonly used in the treatment of fungal infections (of both humans and other animals) such as vaginal yeast infections, oral thrush, and ringworm. It is also used to treat athlete's foot and jock itch.[1]

Medical uses[edit]

It is commonly available as an over-the-counter substance in various dosage forms, such as a cream or as a troche or throat lozenge (prescription only). Topically, clotrimazole is used for vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) or yeast infections of the skin. Troche or throat lozenge preparations are used for oropharyngeal candidiasis (oral thrush) or prophylaxis against oral thrush in neutropenic patients. It may also be used for ear infections where fungal etiology is suspected.[2]

Clotrimazole is also commonly used in conjunction with betamethasone as a topical cream<for tinea corporis (ringworm), tinea cruris (jock itch), or tinea pedis (athlete's foot).[3]

Topical and oral clotrimazole can be used in both adult and pediatric populations.

Additionally, clotrimazole may be used to treat the sickling of cells (related to sickle cell anemia).[4][5]

Mechanism of action[edit]

Clotrimazole works to kill individual Candida or fungal cells by altering the permeability of the fungal cell wall. It binds to phospholipids in the cell membrane and inhibits the biosynthesis of ergosterol and other sterols required for cell membrane production. This leads to the cell's death via loss of intracellular elements. [6] [7]

Drug interactions[edit]

There are no known significant drug interactions with topical clotrimazole. However, with oral (troche) clotrimazole, there are multiple interactions as the medication is a CYP450 enzyme inhibitor, primarily CYP3A4. Thus, any medication that is metabolized by the CYP3A4 enzyme will potentially have elevated levels when oral clotrimazole is used. The prescribing physician should be aware of any medication the patient is taking prior to starting oral clotrimazole. Certain medications should not be taken with oral clotrimazole.[8]

Side effects[edit]

Side effects of the oral formulation include itching, nausea, and vomiting. >10% of patients using the oral formulation may have abnormal liver function tests. For this reason, liver function tests should be monitored periodically when taking the oral clotrimazole (troche). When used to treat vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infection), <10% of patient have vulvar or vaginal burning sensation. <1% of patients have the following side effects: Burning or itching of penis of sexual partner; polyuria; vulvar itching, soreness, edema, or discharge

Of note, clotrimazole may weaken latex condoms and diaphragms. [9] [10]


Small amounts of clotrimazole may be absorbed systemically following topical and vaginal administration. However, this may still be used to treat vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) in pregnant women.


  1. ^ "Clotrimazole". NIH. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Sander, Robert. "Otitis Externa: A Practical Guide to Treatment and Prevention". AAFP. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Clotrimazole and Betamethasone". Lexicomp. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Marieb & Hoehn, (2010). Human Anatomy and Physiology, p. 643. Toronto: Pearson
  5. ^ Rodgers, Griffin. "Hydroxyurea and other disease-modifying therapies in sickle cell disease". UpToDate. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Clotrimazole (Oral)". LexiComp. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Clotrimazole". Fungal Guide .ca. Vancouver , B.C. Canada. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Clotrimazole (Oral)". LexiComp. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Clotrimazole (Topical)". Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Diseases Characterized by Vaginal Discharge". CDC. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Canesten (clotrimazole) antifungal cream