Clotrimazole: A Review of its Antifungal Activity and Therapeutic Efficacy

Summary

Clotrimazole2, a synthetic imidazole derivative, is primarily used locally in the treatment of vaginal and skin infections due to yeasts and dermatophytes. In vitro, it is most active against Candida spp., Trichophyton spp., Microsporum spp. and Malazzesia furfur (Pityrosporon orbiculare). In addition, it has some in vitro activity against certain Gram-positive bacteria, and at very high concentrations has activity against Trichomonas spp.

In the treatment of vaginal candidiasis, clotrimazole vaginal tablets have produced cure rates comparable with those of conventional nystatin vaginal tablets. There have been no published comparisons with nystatin vaginal cream or foaming vaginal tablets — nystatin dosage forms preferred by some clinicians. Clotrimazole has also been successful in patients who had failed to respond to other antifungal agents such as nystatin and amphotericin B. Results in trichomonal vaginitis are not impressive.

Skin infections caused by Candida or dermatophytes have been effectively treated with topical application of clotrimazole. In comparative trials, clotrimazole cream has been as effective as Whitfleld’s ointment and tolnaftate in the treatment of dermatophytoses, and as effective as nystatin in cutaneous candidiasis. Clotrimazole topical preparations are generally well tolerated, but local irritation has necessitated withdrawal of therapy in a few cases.

Candidal septicemia and urinary and pulmonary candidiasis have been cured with oral clotrimazole therapy. Results in other types of serious fungal infections, including pulmonary aspergillosis, have been disappointing. A limiting factor in oral clotrimazole therapy is the high incidence of gastro-intestinal disturbances and neurological reactions.

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Correspondence to Phyllis R. Sawyer.

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‘Canesten (Bayer)’; ‘Lotrimin’(Delbay)

Manuscript reviewed by: Dr M. Bewick, Department of Surgery, Guy’s Hospital, London, England; Dr R. Carruthers, Consultant Dermatologist, Launceston, Australia; Dr N. Cho, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Showa University, Tokyo, Japan; Dr G. Dennerstein, Consultant Gynaecologist, Melbourne, Australia; Dr R.J. Holt, Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, Surrey, England; Prof. G. Medoff, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., USA; Dr H. ObersteLehn, Ferdinand Sauerbruch Clinic, Wuppertal-Elberfeld, West Germany; Dr R.G. Park, Consultant Dermatologist, Wellington, New Zealand; Dr J.H.S. Pettit, Consultant Dermatologist, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Dr R.J. Seddon, Postgraduate School of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; Dr J.P. Utz, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA; Dr K.O. Wong, Consultant Dermatologist, Hong Kong.

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Sawyer, P.R., Brogden, R.N., Pinder, K.M. et al. Clotrimazole: A Review of its Antifungal Activity and Therapeutic Efficacy. Drugs 9, 424–447 (1975). https://doi.org/10.2165/00003495-197509060-00003

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Key Words

  • Antifungal agents
  • Candidiasis
  • Clotrimazole
  • Dermatophytoses
  • Tinea