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Canesten (clotrimazole)

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What is Canesten?

Canesten is a medicine that can treat various fungal infections such as:

Canesten comes in different forms, such as an external cream, intravaginal cream and vaginal pessaries.

How does it work?

Canesten relieves the symptoms of itching and irritation caused by fungal infections by tackling the cause of these infections.

This is thanks to the active ingredient Clotrimazole. It works by causing holes to appear in the fungal cell membrane which allows the contents to leak out. This stops the fungi from growing and treats the infection.

How do I use Canesten?

How you use Canesten depends on what infection you are being treated for and which form you are prescribed.

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 clotrimazole cream is used in the same way for all genders.

To use Canesten antifungal cream for vaginal thrush, fungal balanitis or fungal skin infections:

  1. Wash your hands before and after applying the cream.
  2. Apply a thin layer of cream to the affected area (e.g. the vulva, head of the penis or skin) 2 to 3 times a day.
  3. Do not apply the cream internally.
  4. Continue using this even after your symptoms have cleared to reduce the chance of the infection returning, as directed by your doctor.*

* For fungal balanitis, treatment should be used for at least two weeks.

For other fungal infections, if your symptoms have not responded to initial treatment within 14 days, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Internal vaginal cream

The Canesten intravaginal cream should only be used by women, as it’s 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.

Here are some instructions on how to use it:

How to use Canesten intravaginal cream
Infographic showing the Canesten plunger and applicator
  • Wash your hands before and after using this treatment.
  • Remove the applicator from the packet.
  • Insert plunger A into applicator B (where the pre-measured dose of cream cream is).
Infographic showing the removal of the Canesten cap
  • Remove cap C then get into a comfortable position, preferably lying on your back with your knees bent up. Then gently insert the applicator into your vagina as far as is comfortable.
Infographic showing how to insert the Canesten applicator
  • Holding the applicator in place, slowly press the plunger until it stops. This deposits the cream into the vagina.
  • Remove the applicator and dispose of it safely.

You may notice a slight discharge after using the cream, so it may be helpful to wear a panty liner.

Your symptoms should disappear within three days of treatment. Make an appointment with your doctor if your condition has not improved after 7 days.

Canesten pessary

Canesten pessaries should only be used by women, and are designed to go into the vagina. Do not swallow this medicine.

The pessary is inserted just like the internal vaginal cream (as illustrated above). The only difference is that you place the tablet into the applicator before inserting it into the vagina. The moisture inside the vagina helps this medication dissolve.

Here are some instructions on how to use it:

  1. Wash your hands before and after using this product.
  2. Remove the applicator from the packet and pull the plunger out as far as it will go.
  3. Take the pessary out of the blister pack and place it firmly into the applicator.
  4. Lie on your back with your knees bent, then gently insert the applicator into your vagina as far as is comfortable.
  5. Holding the applicator in place, slowly press the plunger in until it stops moving. This releases the pessary into the vagina.
  6. Remove the applicator.

100mg pessary: Two pessaries should be inserted daily (preferably at night) for three consecutive days. Alternatively, you can insert one pessary daily for six days in a row.

200mg pessary: One pessary should be inserted daily for three consecutive nights.

500mg pessary: One 500mg pessary should be inserted once at night.

The symptoms of thrush should disappear within three days of treatment. If no improvement is seen after seven days you must tell your doctor.

For vaginal thrush, you can use an internal treatment (Canesten thrush cream/pessaries) alongside an external cream.

Always read the label and the patient leaflet before starting treatment.

What strength should I use?

There are several different strengths of Canesten available. It is best to get advice from a doctor about which treatment 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.

Prescription-only Available over-the-counter
10% vaginal cream 100mg pessary
500mg pessary 200mg pessary

If you aren’t certain if you have thrush, 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 using the treatment.

Possible side effects
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Discharge
  • Blisters
  • Skin peeling

Not everyone who uses the treatment will experience side effects. Research Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source shows that less than 10% of patients experience symptoms such as a vaginal burning sensation.

If an allergic reaction occurs, you should stop using this product 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 side effects that last after completing the treatment.

What are the precautions?

You should not use this medicine if you:

  • are allergic to Clotrimazole or any other ingredient in this product

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

  • are unsure if you have thrush or if it’s the first time you have had these symptoms
  • are under 16 or over 60 years old
  • have had thrush more than twice in the last 6 months
  • have ever had a sexually transmitted disease (or if your partner has)
  • have any of the following symptoms:
    • irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding
    • a blood-stained discharge
    • ulcers, blisters or sores on the vagina or vulva
    • lower abdominal pain
    • pain or difficulty when peeing
    • fever or chills
    • feeling sick or vomiting
    • diarrhoea
    • a foul-smelling vaginal discharge

While treating thrush with internal Canesten products do not use any other vaginal products such as tampons, douches or spermicides.

Avoid vaginal intercourse when using this medicine and until you complete the course of treatment. This will reduce the risk of spreading the infection to your partner.

Canesten internal products:

  • May not be as effective if you are on your period. This is because there is a risk of them being washed out by the menstrual flow.
  • Can reduce the effectiveness of latex contraceptives, such as condoms. Use alternative contraception for at least five days after using this product.

Can I use Canesten when pregnant?

Yes, you can use Canesten treatments that contain Clotrimazole during pregnancy. This includes the Canesten creams as well as the pessaries.

Always speak to a healthcare professional such as your doctor or midwife before taking any treatments while pregnant or breastfeeding.

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 doctors.

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.

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. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 08-05-2024
Canesten Information
Product nameCanesten
Active ingredient(s)Clotrimazole
Trustpilot rating-
Trustpilot reviews-
AvailabilityOut of stock
DescriptionAntifungal treatment
ExemptionAvailable over-the-counter with stronger doses subject to prescription
PresentationCream or pessary
Available dosageCreams are available in 1%, 2% or 10% doses.
Pessaries are 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 before use
When pregnantMostly suitable, consult a doctor before use

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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