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What is the Difference Between Antifungal and Anti-Fungicidal?

By Tamara Elliott
Updated May 17, 2024
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The medical field is famous for its jargon. People working in this field use many words, phrases and abbreviations not commonly known. These terms are often based in Latin and interchangeable, much to the consternation of the public. Antifungal is one of these words. There is no medical term “anti-fungicidal.” There is, however, the term “fungicidal.” Antifungal and fungicidal mean the same thing: to inhibit the growth of fungi. When medical people use “anti” with a term, it means against or the opposite of the term used. The term “anti-fungicidal” would therefore mean to not inhibit the growth of fungi.

Another Latin based term, fungi is the plural of fungus. A fungus is a non-flowering plant that lacks chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green coloring. Some examples of a fungus include mushrooms, molds, mildews, and yeasts. Although some of these are good to eat and some are good for making breads and medicines, others can be health hazards. Thus, science developed fungicidal medications.

Most people have heard of athlete’s foot and jock itch. These conditions are the overgrowth of a type of fungus. The symptoms for a fungus infection, no matter where it is located on the body, can include itching, burning, reddening of the skin, and depending on the location, a thick, whitish colored discharge. The only exception to these symptoms is when the overgrowth is located on a toenail or fingernail. The nail becomes very thick and discolored. For these conditions, most physicians recommend the use of an antifungal medication.

There are many over the counter antifungal medications available on the market. Some examples are Lotrimen®, Tinactin®, Vagistat®, Monostat®, and Micatin®, to name a few. Almost all of the over the counter antifungal medications are applied topically, right onto the skin where the fungus infection is located. Some oral medications are available but require a physician’s prescription. If using the topical medication, expect to treat the area for a minimum of one week, depending on which antifungal you choose. If you choose to use the oral medications, expect to pay a little more and take them for about 6 weeks.

Although the medical field may use many terms not always understandable to the public, they do develop medications and treatments to help us feel better. Antifungal medications keep the craziness of athlete’s foot, and other very uncomfortable fungus infections, from taking the forefront in our lives. If one used an “anti-fungicidal,” one would make the fungus grow more, not a pleasant thought. When choosing an antifungal treatment, though, take into consideration how the medication is taken and for how long one has to use it.

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