Antifungal Agents To Treat Fungus

Nail fungal infections were once dismissed as purely cosmetic, but now doctors are beginning to realize that these infections can cause serious health complications. People with compromised immune systems, diabetes, or blood circulation problems may be especially at risk of developing serious health complications. Fortunately, doctors are beginning to treat fungal nail infections with a greater degree of seriousness. Pharmaceutical companies have developed new and powerful antifungal agents to treat these often-stubborn infections. There are three oral antifungal agents in particular that hold much promise. These three agents are easy to absorb and have what is known as a "reservoir effect." This means that the antifungal agents move to the nail plate and remain stored there for many months. This allows the fungal infection that lives behind nail plate to be treated, even as the nail begins to grow out.

The first of these oral antifungal agents to be approved in recent years is Itraconazole (Sporonox). Itraconazole is taken orally on a daily basis for a period of several weeks. The duration of treatment depends partly on the location of the infection. Fingernail infections are generally easier to treat because the nails are not as thick. Fingernail fungus infections can be treated with Itraconazole for a period of roughly six weeks. For toenail infections, treatment may last for up to three months. Itraconazole is often used for a treatment technique described as "pulse dosing." Pulse dosing refers to taking a concentrated amount of medication on a short-term basis to treat localized infections.

Another antifungal agent that is being developed to treat nail infections is known as fluconazole (Diflucan). Fluconazole, as its name applies, is a related to the chemicals present in Itraconazole. Although fluconazole has not yet been approved for treating nail fungal infections, it appears to hold great promise for treating infections on a pulse dosing or long-term schedule. How do itraconazole and fluconazole work? Both of these are classified as fungi static drugs. They work by stopping the growth and reproduction of fungi. Although these antifungal agents are showing great promise for treating common fungal infections, they do contain one serious side effect. Unfortunately, the chemical properties of these antifungal agents tend to interact negatively with other common medications. Older people are more prone to developing nail infections, and this population is also more likely to use medications to treat various ailments. This can make it difficult to use antifungal oral agents to treat nail infections in people taking other prescription medications.

There is a third oral antifungal agent that is currently used to treat most cases of nail infections. The agent is known as terbenafine, and it is widely prescribed commercially as Lamisil. Lamasil seeks to kill germs and fungi, while the previous two agents seek to stop the development of the fungi. Lamasil is generally taken on a daily basis, similar to taking a vitamin. Although it has proven effective for some cases of nail infections, it has not proven to be a universal cure for fungal infections.

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