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What are antifungals?

Antifungals are medicines that kill or stop the growth of fungi (the plural of fungus) that cause infections. They are also called antimycotic agents.

Fungal infections can affect the:

  • Circulatory system.
  • Respiratory system.
  • Skin and nails.

What is a fungus?

Fungi grow as yeasts, molds or a combination of both. They reproduce through very tiny spores. These spores can exist in soil or become airborne.

You can also have naturally occurring fungi, like Candida yeast, in your body. Fungi live on your skin, inside your digestive system and vagina (part of the female reproductive system).

Who is at risk for fungal infections?

Anyone can get a fungal infection. Most fungi cause no problems or the infections are easily treatable.

People who have compromised immune systems are more likely to develop serious fungal infections. These infections are called opportunistic infections. They can be life-threatening for people who have:

  • AIDS.
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus.
  • Cancer.
  • Organ transplants.
  • Stem cell (bone marrow) transplants.

How do you take antifungal medications?

There are OTC and prescription antifungal medicines. Talk to your healthcare provider about what treatment to use.

Antifungals come in different forms, including:

  • Injections (shots) or IV.
  • Oral pills or liquids.
  • Topical (skin) creams, ointments, gels and sprays.
  • Vaginal suppositories.