Clotrimazole for vaginal thrush

  • Clotrimazole is used to treat vaginal thrush.
  • Side-effects are unlikely but may include mild skin irritation or itching.
  • If your symptoms do not improve after using clotrimazole, speak with your doctor.
  • Do not use more than two courses of clotrimazole in six months without speaking with a doctor first.
Type of medicine Antifungal
Used for Vaginal thrush
Also called Canesten®
Available as Cream, intravaginal (internal) cream, pessary, and as combination products of creams and pessary

Many women have an occasional bout of vaginal thrush. It is due to an infection with a yeast fungus called Candida spp. Most cases of thrush are caused by Candida albicans but sometimes other types of Candida spp. are the cause. Common symptoms of thrush are itching, soreness, and redness around the outside of the vagina and a thick, creamy white, odourless vaginal discharge. Clotrimazole works by killing yeast fungus.

Clotrimazole is a treatment which can be used as a cream around the outside of the vagina, or inserted into the vagina with an applicator. It is available on prescription or you can buy it at pharmacies, without a prescription, if you have previously been diagnosed by your doctor as having vaginal thrush.

Clotrimazole can also be used to treat fungal infections of the skin. There is a separate information leaflet called 'Clotrimazole for skin infections' which gives information about this.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using clotrimazole for thrush, make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant.
  • If you have previously had a sexually transmitted disease, or have had a partner with a sexually transmitted disease.
  • If you have had more than two episodes of thrush in the previous six months.
  • If you are under 16 or over 60 years of age.
  • If you have a foul-smelling or blood-stained vaginal discharge, or if you have blisters or sores in the vaginal area.
  • If you are in pain, feel sick, or have diarrhoea or a fever.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to a similar medicine.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about how to use the clotrimazole preparation you have been given.
  • If you have been given clotrimazole cream, apply the cream to the area around the outside of your vagina and back passage two or three times daily.
  • If you have been given clotrimazole intravaginal cream (for example Canesten 10% VC® or Canesten® Internal Cream), insert one dose high into your vagina at bedtime using the applicator.
  • If you have been given clotrimazole pessaries, use the applicator to insert the pessary high up into your vagina at bedtime. The usual dose is a single 500 mg pessary, although this may be repeated once if needed. If you are pregnant, do not use the applicator to insert the pessary unless your doctor has recommended you to do so.
  • If you are using pessaries, these will dissolve in the vaginal fluid. You may notice some undissolved bits of pessary, especially if you suffer from vaginal dryness, but this is nothing to worry about.
  • Clotrimazole may reduce the effectiveness of condoms and diaphragms. Consequently, you should use an alternative method of contraception (or avoid sexual intercourse) while you are being treated with clotrimazole and for five days afterwards.
  • Do not use tampons, intravaginal douches, spermicides or any other vaginal products while you are using clotrimazole.
  • If you are using the cream or have been told to use clotrimazole pessaries for more than one day, remember to complete the course even if your symptoms have improved. This will help to prevent your infection from coming back.
  • In general, you can use these topical treatments if you are pregnant but you should always check with your doctor or pharmacist. Treatment may be needed for longer during pregnancy.
  • If your symptoms have not improved within seven days of using clotrimazole, see your doctor for further advice.
  • If your symptoms improve but then return, you may use a second course of clotrimazole. Do not use more than two courses of clotrimazole within six months without speaking to your doctor first.
  • Other things that may help to relieve the symptoms of thrush include avoiding wearing tight-fitting underwear and clothing, and avoiding using perfumed products, such as soaps and shower gels, around the vaginal area.

Clotrimazole is unlikely to cause any unwanted symptoms. Occasionally, it may cause irritation and soreness. If you experience any other symptoms, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Last Checked:
19/01/2012
Document ID:
3582 (v24)
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