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What Are the Most Common Clotrimazole Side Effects?

By Lee Johnson
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The most common clotrimazole side effects are skin reactions, particularly redness, stinging, swelling, or itching at the site of application. Most patients use the drug as a topical ointment that’s rubbed directly into the skin, and irritation happens either when people use too much or when their bodies simply aren’t used to the compounds included in the cream. Sometimes clotrimazole is taken orally. Skin reactions can still happen in these instances, but tend to be more widespread; hives will cover the whole body, for instance, or a rash will develop over big areas of skin. Digestive trouble is also more common with oral preparations, and people sometimes develop nausea and vomiting. Those using the drug to treat vaginal conditions sometimes also find that the genital area becomes dry and irritated during the course of treatment. In most cases, side effects will go away on their own after a day or two. Any symptoms that persist could be a sign of an allergic reaction or some more serious condition, and should typically be evaluated by a medical professional.

Clotrimazole Basics

Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication used to treat a number of fungal infections in both humans and animals. It’s normally sold as a cream that people are meant to rub directly on to the skin at the site of the infection. Many pharmacies and chemists sell it over the counter in a range of different concentrations, and some high dose creams are available by prescription, too. In many cases it’s also available as a pill to be taken orally.

The medication’s main purpose is to kill fungus spores and strains that have become imbedded in the skin or other bodily tissues. This can make it somewhat harsh, and most reactions happen because the skin, already weakened by the fungal growth, isn’t prepared to ward off more irritants.

Skin Irritation

Frequently reported clotrimazole side effects include mild stinging, burning, and redness at the site of application. The skin around the area of application can also dry out in some patients, while others may experience swelling, itching, and hives. The skin can also blister and peel, usually as a result of prolonged use.

Digestive Trouble

Common side effects associated with the oral lozenge form of the drug include nausea, vomiting, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. In most cases these symptoms are mild and will usually go away on their own in a day or two. Anyone who feels severely nauseated or who vomits repeatedly should get help, since this could be a sign of a much more serious reaction. Also, repeated vomiting usually rids the body of the drug, making treatment ineffective in any event.

Special Concerns for Vaginal Use

Women using the vaginal insert form of this drug, usually as a course of treatment for a vaginal yeast infection, commonly experience mild vaginal burning and dryness. Many preparations of the drug can cause stinging, redness, and itching of the area of application. Some patients also report foul-smelling vaginal discharge, stomach pain, and fever. Symptoms may be more severe during pregnancy, though in most cases the drug is considered safe to use and isn’t thought to harm the unborn child. Serious reactions can be a cause for concern, though, and pregnant women should accordingly use caution and pay close attention to their symptoms.

Possible Allergic Reaction

More serious clomitrazole side effects are those related to allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, rash, swelling of the face, and tightness around the chest. Swelling can also occur in the lips or the tongue. Combination creams including clotrimazole can also cause thinning, discoloration, and softening of the skin. Excessive hair growth and inflammation of the hair follicles are also possible. In general, these reactions are not considered normal, and anyone experiencing them should seek medical attention.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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