Azoles for treating thrush

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Azoles for treating thrush


Generic NameBrand Name

These medicines are available as:

  • A mouth rinse that is put directly on the infected area (topical).
  • A tablet that is swallowed (oral).

How It Works

Azoles stop the growth of the yeast that causes thrush. This gives the body's immune system a better chance to destroy the yeast.

Why It Is Used

These medicines may be used for cases of thrush that have not responded to nystatin (a polyene).2

  • Fluconazole pills may be used to treat thrush in older children and adults.
  • Fluconazole and itraconazole may be used to treat thrush that has spread into the esophagus.

How Well It Works

Azoles are effective in curing thrush, especially when other topical treatment has not been helpful.3

Fluconazole can cure thrush that has spread into the esophagus.

Side Effects

Although azoles rarely cause side effects, they may cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and belly pain.
  • Headache.
  • Itching, skin rash.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

An azole or nystatin is usually the first medicine used to treat thrush in children.1

Certain medicines can interact with azoles. This can make the azole less effective or can cause problems with the liver. Some of these medicines include:

  • Some ulcer medicines (sucralfate and acid reducers).
  • A seizure medicine called phenytoin (Dilantin).
  • A tuberculosis medicine (rifampin).
  • A medicine used to prevent rejection in organ transplants (cyclosporine).
  • A blood thinner called warfarin (Coumadin).

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Knapp KM, Flynn PM (2009). Candidiasis. In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2741–2751. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
  2. Weinberg A, Levin MJ (2007). Candidiasis section of Infections: parasitic and mycotic. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment, 18th ed., pp. 1240–1243. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Fox CR, Sande MA (2001). Candida species. In WR Wilson et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Infectious Diseases, pp. 734–744. New York: McGraw-Hill.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised April 14, 2010

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