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  • Canesten
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What is Canesten?

Canesten is a product that can treat a variety of fungal skin infections. These include:

  • jock itch
  • fungal sweat rash
  • fungal nappy rash
  • ringworm

Canesten is also an effective treatment for thrush or yeast infections.

This common fungal infection happens when there is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus in the vagina, penis, or mouth.

To treat thrush, Canesten is available as:

  • an external cream
  • an internal (vaginal) cream
  • a vaginal pessary

How does it work?

Canesten treats thrush by either soothing external skin or by treating the infection internally.

Because of this, it is always best to use an external cream in combination with an internal cream or vaginal pessary.

The active ingredient in Canesten is called Clotrimazole. It works by killing the candida fungus and stopping it from growing.

The treatment should relieve your symptoms within 7 days, but it’s best to continue using Canesten for up to 2 weeks to avoid your thrush recurring.

How do I take Canesten?

How you take Canesten depends on which form you are taking. There are different guides for external and internal treatments.

If your treatment has been prescribed by a doctor, follow their guidance on how to take it.

However, a general guide for applying the different forms of Canesten is as follows:

External Cream

Whilst thrush affects men and women slightly differently, the external cream is used in the same way for all genders.

  1. Pierce the seal on the tube with the pointed cap.
  2. Apply a thin layer of cream to the vulva (entrance around the vagina) or the head of the penis.
  3. Do not apply internally.
  4. Apply the cream 2-3 times per day, continuing until your thrush symptoms have cleared.

If your condition hasn’t improved after 7 days, consult your doctor.

Internal Cream

Internal creams and pessaries are only used by women, as they must be inserted into the vagina. This directly targets the source of infection.

You will be provided with an applicator to ease the process of inserting the treatment. These work similarly to tampon applicators and are easy to use.

  1. Insert plunger A into applicator B (where the treatment cream is).
  2. Remove cap C. Be careful not to touch the plunger once the cap is removed to avoid wasting cream.
  3. Get into a comfortable position and insert the applicator into your vagina.
  4. Holding the applicator in place, slowly press the plunger until it stops.
  5. Remove the applicator and dispose of it in a rubbish bin (do not flush).
canesten infograph canesten infograph canesten infograph

The cream can cause some discharge, so it might be useful to wear a panty liner.

Your symptoms should disappear within three days of treatment. Consult your doctor if your condition has not improved after 7 days.


The pessary is inserted just like the internal cream. The only difference is that you must place the tablet into the applicator before inserting.

  1. Remove the applicator from its packaging and pull out the plunger until it stops.
  2. Remove the pessary from the pack and place it firmly into the applicator.
  3. Next, get into a comfortable position and insert the applicator deep into the vagina. Slowly press the plunger until it stops.
  4. Remove the applicator and dispose of it in a bin. Do not flush the applicator.

You can purchase ‘combination’ packs containing both external and internal medications. Always read the patient leaflet before starting treatment.

What strength should I take?

There are several different strengths of Canesten available. It is best to get advice from a doctor about which is the most suitable for you.

Stronger products can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription. However, if you have had thrush before and are familiar with the symptoms, you can purchase lower strengths of Canesten at your local pharmacy.

Only available with a prescription Available over-the-counter
  • 500mg pessary
  • 10% vaginal cream
  • 1% cream (for treatments other than thrush)
  • 2% external cream
  • 100mg pessary
  • 200mg pessary

Only use over-the-counter Canesten products if you are sure you have thrush. If you aren’t certain, or you think it could be something else, consult a healthcare professional.

What are the possible side effects?

As with all medications, there is a chance that you might experience some side effects. In most cases, these will be mild and will go away by themselves once you stop taking treatment.

Some common side effects of Canesten include:
  • itching
  • rash
  • swelling
  • redness
  • discomfort
  • burning
  • irritation
  • discharge

If an allergic reaction occurs, you should stop taking Canesten immediately and seek emergency medical help. Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • rash
  • swallowing or breathing problems
  • swelling of the lips, face, throat, or tongue
  • weakness, feeling dizzy, fainting
  • nausea

Speak to your doctor if you have any persisting side effects after finishing the treatment.

What are the precautions?

You should not take Canesten if you:

  • are allergic to Clotrimazole or any other ingredient in the treatment
  • want to treat a nail or scalp infection

You should speak to a doctor before taking Canesten if you:

  • aren’t certain if you have thrush
  • are under 16 or over 60
  • have had thrush more than twice in the last 6 months

While treating thrush with Canesten:

  • Do not use any other vaginal products such as tampons or spermicides (with internal treatments)
  • Do not go near smoke or naked flames (as Canesten is flammable)
  • Always inform your midwife before using any Canesten treatments while pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Avoid vaginal intercourse until your symptoms have cleared

Canesten internal cream:

  • Won’t be as effective on your period
  • Can reduce the effectiveness of rubber contraceptives such as condoms
  • Is best to use after getting a diagnosis from a medical professional

Please note: Do NOT swallow or take orally any of the above Canesten treatments.

Is it safe during pregnancy?

Yes, all forms of Canesten are safe to take during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

Because you apply the treatment directly to the vulva and/or vagina, there is less chance of your body absorbing the active ingredient and passing it onto your unborn baby or into your breast milk.

Usually, pregnant women will need a longer duration of treatment.

Always consult your doctor or midwife before taking any medications when you are expecting.

Can I buy Canesten over the counter?

Lower-strength Canesten products are available to buy over the counter.

This means you can easily access thrush treatment if you are confident in your diagnosis, or if you have had thrush before and know that Canesten will work for you.

However, buying over the counter means you won’t get a doctor’s medical opinion. The product you decide to choose might not be the optimal treatment.

Can I buy Canesten online?

You can buy Canesten online for thrush here at euroClinix.

By ordering online, you will be prescribed a treatment best suited to your symptoms by one of our UK doctors. You can also access stronger prescription-only medicines such as the 10% cream and 500mg pessary.

Simply fill out the online consultation form before placing your order. Once approved, the right treatment will be sent straight to your door in discreet packaging with free next day delivery.

Looking to purchase Canesten?

Click here

Note: You must complete a short online consultation so that our doctor can ensure that the treatment is suitable for you. The above pricing should only be used as a reference. The final decision to issue this treatment lies with the prescribing doctor.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Anand Abbot MRCGP Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 14-11-2023
Canesten Information
Product nameCanesten
Active ingredient(s)Clotrimazole
Trustpilot rating-
Trustpilot reviews-
AvailabilityOut of stock
DescriptionAntifungal treatment used to treat thrush
ExemptionAvailable over-the-counter with stronger doses subject to prescription
PresentationCream or pessary
Available dosageCreams available in 1%, 2% or 10% doses. Pessaries available in 100mg, 200mg or 500mg doses.
ApplicationMen and women aged between 16-60
Drug classAntifungal
Alcohol consumptionNo known interaction
When breastfeedingMostly suitable, consult a doctor
When pregnantMostly suitable, consult a doctor

Further reading

Thrush during pregnancy

Thrush during pregnancy

Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
Recurring thrush: causes and treatment

Recurring thrush: causes and treatment

Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
How does thrush affect men and women differently?

How does thrush affect men and women differently?

Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
Male thrush: the symptoms to look out for

Male thrush: the symptoms to look out for

Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
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