Diflucan is the trade name of an antifungal drug called fluconazole which belongs to a group of antifungal drugs known as triazoles. Fluconazole is used to treat a variety of infections caused by yeast and fungi particularly those caused by Candida or Cryptococcus species.
In common with all azole antifungal drugs, fluconazole works by preventing fungal cells from manufacturing ergosterol, a vital component of their cell membranes. Without healthy cell membranes containing ergosterol the fungal cells cannot survive and thus the drug effectively kills the organism.
Fluconazole is a first line drug in the treatment of fungal infections of a variety of kinds. Amongst other things it is used to treat:
- Fungal skin infections, such as athlete's foot (tinea pedis), ringworm (tinea corporis), jock itch (tinea cruris), pityriasis versicolor, or Candida skin infections.
- Candida infections of the mucous membranes of the mouth (oral thrush), throat, lungs or urinary tract.
- Internal fungal infections caused by Candida, eg infections of the bloodstream, urinary tract, heart, lungs, abdomen or other widespread internal infections (systemic candidiasis).
- Inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis) caused by infection with Candida albicans (also known as vaginal thrush).
- Inflammation of the penis and/or foreskin (candidal balanitis) caused by infection with Candida albicans (also known as thrush).
- Fungal infections caused by Cryptococcus fungi (cryptococcosis), including cryptococcal meningitis and infections affecting the lungs or skin.
Fluconazole is also recommended for the treatment of intestinal Candida overgrowth by some doctors. In his book 'The Yeast Connection', Dr. William Crook says:
"The dose and duration of therapy [with Diflucan] depends on the severity of your health problems. Patients with mild problems may respond to 100mg a day for a week, then one tablet every two to seven days.
Individuals with more severe problems may require 200 to 400 to 600mg daily for a month - or many months. When improvement occurs medication can be taken less frequently or discontinued."
Fluconazole is available in tablets, capsules and powder form and is well absorbed in the intestines so enters the bloodstream and can be used for treatment of systemic infection. In severe systemic candidiasis (e.g. in severely immuno-compromised/AIDS patients) it is given intravenously.
Fluconazole is effective against Candida albicans and other species of Candida apart from Candida Krusei and some strains of Candida glabrata.
Along with other azole drugs there is a chance that fluconazole may cause hepatotoxicity (liver problems) so patients are often monitored for liver function while taking the drug and those with existing liver problems are advised to avoid it.
Please note: Diflucan (fluconazole) is a prescription medication that should only be used under the supervision of your doctor. See side-effects.