• Some preparations of ketoconazole can be bought without a prescription.
  • Use it regularly until the infection has cleared up.

About ketoconazole

Type of medicine Antifungal
Used for The cream is used for fungal skin infections
The shampoo is used for dandruff
Also called Daktarin®; Dandrazol®; Ketopine®; Nizoral®
Available as Cream and shampoo

Although many types of fungi live harmlessly on our skin, some can cause infections. The most common fungi to cause skin infections are the tinea group of fungi. For example, tinea pedis (athlete's foot) is a common fungal infection of the toes and feet. A common fungal infection of the mouth and vagina is called thrush. This is caused by an overgrowth of candida which is a yeast (a type of fungus). Also, tinea cruris is a fungal infection which affects the groin area.

Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine which is applied topically (to the skin). It works by killing the fungus causing the infection. It is available on prescription, or you can buy some ketoconazole preparations without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.

Ketoconazole shampoo is used for persistent or more severe forms of dandruff.

Before using ketoconazole

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using ketoconazole it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are taking or using other medicines or creams. This includes any which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine or cream.

How to use ketoconazole

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about ketoconazole, and a full list of possible side-effects from using it.
  • Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how often to apply the preparation you have been given, as the instructions will differ depending on what you are being treated for. As a guide, it is usually recommended that the cream is applied once or twice every day. If you are using the shampoo, it is likely that you will be advised to use it once or twice weekly, although a doctor may prescribe it more frequently for short periods of time for certain scalp conditions.
  • If you are using the cream: wash and dry the infected areas and then rub a thin layer of cream on. Continue to use the cream until all signs of the infection are gone, and then for a further 2-3 days afterwards. Wash your hands, after applying the cream, to stop the infection from spreading to other parts of your body, or to other people. Also, use a separate towel to other people until the infection clears up.
  • If you are using the shampoo: wet your hair well before you apply the shampoo. Massage the lather over your scalp and then leave it for about 3-5 minutes before you rinse it off. Try not to get any of the shampoo into your eyes, but if this happens, rinse it out with water as soon as possible.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Athelete's foot usually clears up within a week of treatment. If there are no signs of improvement after this time, you should make an appointment to see your doctor for further advice.
  • Infections affecting the groin area may take up to six weeks of treatment for the infection to go. If after four weeks of regular treatment your rash is showing no sign of getting better, make an appointment to see your doctor.
  • If you are using the shampoo (for dandruff) and your symptoms haven't improved within four weeks of using the shampoo, ask your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

Can ketoconazole cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common ketoconazole side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who use this preparation
What can I do if I experience this?
Mild irritation, redness and itching If this continues or becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this preparation, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store ketoconazole

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.