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Medication Monday: Ketoconazole

Medication Monday: Ketoconazole New Braunfels, TX

Fungal infections of the skin are a common problem worldwide, affecting millions of people each year. These infections are caused by various types of fungi and can lead to a range of symptoms, including redness, itching, scaling, and flaking. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments available for fungal skin infections, including ketoconazole, a broad-spectrum antifungal agent.

What is Ketoconazole?

Ketoconazole is a synthetic antifungal drug that belongs to the imidazole family. It works by inhibiting the growth and spread of fungi by preventing the synthesis of ergosterol, a key component of fungal cell membranes. As a result, ketoconazole can effectively treat a wide range of fungal infections, including ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and candidiasis.

Ketoconazole is available in various forms, including creams, shampoos, and oral tablets. The cream and shampoo formulations are used to treat fungal infections of the skin, hair, and nails, while the tablets are sometimes used to treat systemic fungal infections.

How Does Ketoconazole Work?

Ketoconazole works by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, a key component of fungal cell membranes. This action weakens the fungal cell wall, making it easier for the body’s immune system to destroy the fungus. Additionally, ketoconazole can also inhibit the activity of enzymes that are necessary for the growth and replication of fungi, further reducing their ability to spread and cause infection.

What are the Benefits of Using Ketoconazole?

Ketoconazole has several benefits as an antifungal agent for skin infections. These include:

  • Broad-spectrum activity: Ketoconazole is effective against a wide range of fungi, making it a versatile treatment option for many different types of fungal infections.
  • Topical and systemic use: Ketoconazole is available in both topical and systemic formulations, allowing for targeted treatment of localized infections as well as more severe or systemic infections.
  • Low risk of resistance: Unlike other antifungal agents, ketoconazole has a low risk of fungal resistance, making it a reliable treatment option even for recurrent or chronic infections.
  • Convenient dosing: Topical ketoconazole can be applied directly to the affected area, while oral ketoconazole tablets can be taken once or twice daily, making it a convenient treatment option for patients.

What are the Side Effects of Ketoconazole?

Like all medications, ketoconazole can cause side effects in some patients. The most common side effects of topical ketoconazole cream and shampoo are mild skin irritation, burning, and itching. These side effects usually resolve on their own within a few days of starting treatment.

Oral ketoconazole tablets can cause more serious side effects, including liver damage, decreased testosterone levels, and adrenal insufficiency. For this reason, oral ketoconazole is generally reserved for severe or systemic fungal infections and is used with caution and close monitoring.


Ketoconazole is a versatile and effective antifungal agent for the treatment of skin infections caused by various types of fungi. It is available in both topical and systemic formulations and has a low risk of resistance. However, like all medications, it can cause side effects in some patients, and it should be used with caution in patients with liver or adrenal insufficiency. If you think you may have a fungal infection, talk to your dermatologist about whether ketoconazole is a suitable treatment option for you.