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What Is Imidazole?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Imidazole is a chemical compound that appears in a number of pharmaceuticals, including antifungals termed imidazoles because of their key ingredient. It consists of a hexagonal ring which can bond with other chemicals in a variety of ways to produce pharmaceutically active compounds. Labs can produce it and its derivatives, like clotrimazole and econazole, synthetically. This allows for efficient mass production in a controlled environment.

Patients may be told to take an imidazole to treat a fungal infection because it has a broad mechanism of action and is usually easy to use. It can be applied topically to skin infections as well as fungal infections in the eyes and orifices, like vaginal yeast infections. Oral formats are also available for the treatment of internal issues or persistent fungal infections that do not resolve with topical treatments. Side effects can depend on the dosage and the delivery method as well as the patient’s history, other medications, and age.

If someone takes a topical imidazole, it can cause irritation which may lead to redness, swelling, itching, and inflammation. Some people experience more severe reactions like tingling and rashes, indicating they may be allergic to the medication or an ingredient in the cream or liquid used to deliver it. The dose is relatively low in these cases which can reduce the risk of side effects, especially if the patient is careful to wash the hands after applying the medication and before eating to minimize the chance of ingestion.

Oral imidazole medications can cause gastrointestinal upset including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms are typically brief and should resolve once the patient finishes the course of medication. If they are severe, another drug may be considered to determine if it is possible to address the infection with more comfort for the patient. The bad reaction may be noted for future reference so the patient doesn’t get a recommendation for the same medication a second time.

Medications in the imidazole class tend to be generally well tolerated among patients. They work well and are cost-effective, which makes them popular choices for medical practitioners making recommendations or writing prescriptions. Patients can discuss alternatives if they want to consider a different medication or if they would like to learn more about available treatments. Health professionals can present options along with their associated risks and benefits to determine if an imidazole is the best fit given the infection and the patient’s history.

WiseGeek 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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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