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What is Nystatin?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nystatin is a prescription antifungal drug that is effective at treating a number of different fungal infections caused by Candida fungi. The medication comes in liquid, tablet, lozenge, and topical form, and a doctor can determine dosage type and amount based on a patient's specific condition. Since nystatin targets fungal spores in the body and leaves healthy tissue alone, it is generally considered a very safe treatment option. If side effects like nausea and stomach pain do occur, they are usually mild and only last for a few hours at a time. It is important for patients to follow their doctors' instructions and finish their courses of treatment in order to achieve the best results.

Antifungal medications like nystatin work by eroding the membranes that surround fungal cells. The drug binds to a chemical in the membrane called ergosterol, which helps maintain the structure of the cell and hold in nutrients. Nystatin causes ergosterol to weaken and separate from the cell. Exposed cells are then left susceptible to nutrient loss and attacks from the body's immune system.

Nystatin is highly potent to a widespread genus of fungi called Candida. Candida can cause vaginal yeast infections, mouth ulcers, gastrointestinal infections, and painful skin rashes. Depending on the location and severity of a Candida outbreak, a doctor may decide to prescribe a topical ointment or an oral solution. Topical creams are commonly given in the case of yeast infections and localized skin rashes, while lozenges are the preferred treatment for mouth ulcers. Patients who have infections in their throats or digestive tracts are typically prescribed tablets or liquid medication.

The standard adult dose for liquid nystatin is six milliliters to be taken four times a day, though a doctor may adjust dosage amounts on a patient to patient basis. One or two lozenges can be used a day, and most dermatologists suggest that topical creams be used twice daily. In order to ensure fungal infections are entirely resolved, treatment should be continued for at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear.

Oral nystatin products may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach upset, and bloating in some patients shortly after taking a dose. Topical ointment is less likely to cause digestive problems, but it may temporarily cause skin around the site of infection to itch or burn. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, throat swelling, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Any adverse reactions should be assessed by a doctor to avoid health problems. Most people are able to use nystatin without complications and see results in as little as one week.

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