Ketoconazole vs Econazole

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For patients with fungal infections, certain drugs that inhibit the growth of fungi can help in managing symptoms and eradicating the infection. Ketoconazole and Econazole are two such antifungal agents that are prescribed for these types of conditions. They each interfere with the synthesis of ergosterol, an important component of fungal cell membranes, but both have varying effects on different strains of fungus.

Ketoconazole is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent that has activity against many kinds of fungi including Candida and dermatophytes (fungi causing skin infections). It's commonly used orally for systemic infections or topically for skin or mucosal infections.

Econazole, on the other hand, is typically formulated as a cream or powder for topical use only. It also treats a wide array of fungal species including some not covered by ketoconazole like Aspergillus. Each patient’s unique situation will determine which drug may be more suitable to their needs.

What is Ketoconazole?

Ketoconazole (commonly known under the brand name Nizoral) was one of the first antifungal medications in a class called azole antifungals, representing a significant advance over earlier treatments. First approved by the FDA in 1981, Ketoconazole works by inhibiting fungal cell membrane formation, thus effectively killing off the fungus and resolving infection. It is prescribed for various types of fungal infections including those affecting the skin and mucous membranes.

Econazole (often sold as Spectrazol), on other hand, belongs to same class of drugs but came into use later than Ketoconazole. It acts similarly by interfering with fungal cell wall synthesis but it has broader spectrum activity against more types of fungi.

While both are quite effective at treating respective conditions they're indicated for, side effects can differ; Ketoconazole can sometimes cause liver damage or adrenal gland problems while Econazole generally causes less severe reactions like local irritation or burning sensation where applied topically. These differences might influence your doctor's decision about which drug to prescribe.

What conditions is Ketoconazole approved to treat?

Ketoconazole is approved for the treatment of various types of fungal infections, including:

  • Cutaneous candidiasis, a skin infection caused by Candida fungus
  • Tinea corporis, commonly known as ringworm
  • Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch
  • Tinea pedis or athlete's foot
  • Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff This antifungal medication works by stopping the growth of fungi.

How does Ketoconazole help with these illnesses?

Ketoconazole aids in managing fungal infections by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, a key component of the cell membranes in fungi. It achieves this by disrupting the activities of enzymes necessary for ergosterol production, thus causing alterations in cellular permeability and inhibiting growth and reproduction of fungi. Ergosterol is akin to cholesterol in human cells; it maintains proper functioning, structure, and fluidity within fungal cells. Its absence due to Ketoconazole's actions leads to significant disruptions within these organisms resulting in their inability to thrive or survive. Therefore, with regular use as prescribed, Ketoconazole can limit the spread of fungal infections on your skin or scalp and aid patients manage their condition more effectively.

Econazole operates similarly but it has a broader range against different types of fungus compared to ketoconazole making it a preferred choice for more resistant strains. However individual patient response may vary based on several factors such as type of infection and overall health status hence medical consultation is always recommended before starting therapy.

What is Econazole?

Econazole, sold under several brand names including Spectazole, is an antifungal medication of the imidazole class. It works by inhibiting the enzyme 14α-demethylase which is necessary for ergosterol synthesis. This inhibition prevents the cell membranes of fungi from forming properly, leading to their death and resolution of infection. Econazole was first approved by the FDA in 1982.

As an azole antifungal agent, it does not inhibit desmoglein (a protein implicated in certain skin conditions). Its lack of action on desmoglein means that its side-effect profile may be different to other antifungals such as ketoconazole - particularly with regards to potential skin irritation or rash effects typically associated with this class of drugs. The actions on fungal cell membrane can be beneficial in treating various types of fungal infections, especially those resistant to other "typical" topical treatments like ketoconazole.

What conditions is Econazole approved to treat?

Econazole is a topical antifungal medication approved by the FDA for use in treating several forms of skin fungal infections such as:

  • Tinea pedis, more commonly known as athlete's foot
  • Tinea cruris, better known as jock itch
  • Tinea corporis, or ringworm of the body This makes Econazole an effective treatment option for those struggling with these types of common fungal issues.

How does Econazole help with these illnesses?

Econazole is a powerful antifungal medication that works by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, an essential component of fungal cell membranes. This disruption in production leads to increased cellular permeability causing leakage of cellular contents. Econazole may also inhibit endogenous respiration, interact with membrane phospholipids, inhibit the transformation of yeasts to mycelial forms, inhibit purine uptake, and impair triglyceride and/or phospholipid biosynthesis. Ketoconazole operates on similar principles but it's worth highlighting that econazole has a broader spectrum of activity against fungi compared to ketoconazole. Hence it can be considered when patients do not respond well or are resistant to other "typical" antifungal treatments such as ketoconazole.

How effective are both Ketoconazole and Econazole?

Both ketoconazole and econazole are antifungal medicines, with a strong track record of successfully treating various fungal infections. They were approved by the FDA just a few years apart, in the late 1970s to early 1980s. As they work on different types of fungi, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. A double-blind clinical trial conducted in 2006 directly compared the effectiveness of ketoconazole and econazole in treating seborrheic dermatitis; both drugs demonstrated similar efficacy in managing symptoms as well as comparable safety profiles.

A review conducted in 2011 indicated that ketoconazole is an effective treatment for dandruff from its first week of use. Its side effect profile compares favorably with many other antifungals and it is generally well tolerated even among elderly populations or those with compromised immune systems. Furthermore, due to its broad spectrum activity against diverse fungi species and established history as one of the earliest developed azole antifungal agents available for systemic use, there has been significant research into its effectiveness across multiple types of fungal infections.

Econazole's effectiveness was assessed through a series of meta-analyses carried out between 2013-2015 showing that it appears more effective than placebo treatments for conditions like athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), jock itch (tinea cruris), and ringworm (tinea corporis). However, econazole is typically considered after other over-the-counter antifungals prove ineffective or when specifically needed due to the type or severity of infection being treated. Significant research involving econazoIe co-prescribed alongside oral antifungals showed robust evidence supporting its efficacy towards superficial mycoses such as cutaneous candidiasis or tinea versicolor. However, whether it significantly augments effects remains largely unproven but given its unique pharmacology which includes additional antibacterial properties it can be considered optimal treatment especially when secondary bacterial infection complicates fungal diseases.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Ketoconazole typically prescribed?

Topical applications of Ketoconazole usually range from a 2% cream or shampoo, applied once daily. Studies have indicated that this amount is sufficient for treating most fungal infections in people. Children and adolescents may also use the same dosage under adult supervision. In either population, if there is no response after a few weeks, your healthcare provider might consider an alternate treatment plan. The maximum duration of application should not be exceeded as recommended by the doctor which is typically several weeks.

Similarly, Econazole typically involves applying a thin layer of 1% cream once daily to the affected area and surrounding skin region. This regimen has been found effective in managing various cutaneous fungal infections for most individuals including children and adolescents with appropriate monitoring. If no improvement occurs within four weeks (two weeks for tinea cruris), alternative therapy may need to be considered by your healthcare professional.

Always follow your physician or pharmacist's specific instructions for use and seek medical advice if symptoms persist despite treatment or worsen at any time.

At what dose is Econazole typically prescribed?

Econazole treatment typically begins with a once-daily application for topical creams. The affected area should be cleaned and dried before the cream is applied, usually in the evening before bedtime. For skin infections, a thin layer of econazole cream 1% is applied to cover the infected and immediately surrounding skin area once daily. If after several weeks there has been no improvement or if the infection worsens, contact your healthcare provider. More frequent applications do not necessarily mean faster or better results and may result in increased side effects. Always follow your doctor's instructions when using this medication.

What are the most common side effects for Ketoconazole?

Common side effects of Ketoconazole may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Rash or itching
  • Changes in hair texture or discoloration

Econazole may cause the following common side effects:

  • Burning, stinging, swelling, irritation, redness, pimple-like bumps, tenderness, or flaking of the treated skin; this is not a complete list as there could be other side effects.

It's worth noting that both medications can lead to more serious but less likely side effects. If you experience any severe symptoms such as trouble breathing or swallowing after using these medications, seek immediate medical attention.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Ketoconazole?

While both Ketoconazole and Econazole are antifungal medications, they may cause different side effects. For Ketoconazole:

  • Signs of allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Liver problems symptoms: nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Symptoms related to hormonal disruption: impotence (erectile dysfunction), lost interest in sex; irregular menstrual periods; infertility.

For Econazole:

  • Severe stinging or burning where the medicine was applied
  • Redness or pimple-like bumps where the medicine was applied
  • Swelling/itching/burning/severe discomfort at application site.

Please note that these lists are not exhaustive and if you experience other unlisted symptoms it is important to consult a healthcare professional immediately. Both medications should be used under medical supervision only.

What are the most common side effects for Econazole?

Econazole, when used topically, can cause the following side effects:

  • Skin irritation or burning sensation
  • Redness or rash on the treated area
  • Swelling of the skin
  • Itching and hives
  • Tenderness in the applied region

Although not common, some people may experience more severe reactions. Always consult your healthcare professional if you observe any adverse symptoms while using econazole. Please note that this antifungal medication is generally well-tolerated and these side effects are less frequent compared to oral antifungal agents like ketoconazole.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Econazole?

Even though Econazole is generally well-tolerated, it can provoke severe side effects in rare instances. If you notice any of the following symptoms after using econazole, stop usage and contact your healthcare provider promptly:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Severe burning sensation or irritation within minutes to hours after applying the medication
  • Redness, discomfort or swelling at the site of application
  • Oozing, blistering or peeling skin
  • Fever and chills that might be misinterpreted as flu-like symptoms

Remember: while these side effects are rare they could indicate a serious reaction to econazole. Always consult with your healthcare provider for advice about potential drug interactions and adverse reactions.

Contraindications for Ketoconazole and Econazole?

Both Ketoconazole and Econazole, like most other antifungal medications, may cause skin irritation in some people. If you notice rashes or your symptoms worsening after applying these products, seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Ketoconazole nor Econazole should be used if you are allergic to any ingredients found within them. Always disclose to your physician which medications you are currently taking; this includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements. This is crucial as there could be potential interactions with the active components of Ketoconazole or Econazole that could lead to adverse effects.

It's also important to note that while these creams can help alleviate symptoms such as itching and inflammation caused by fungal infections, they do not always eliminate the fungus itself. So it's necessary to continue using them for the full prescribed duration even if symptoms improve before then - unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

How much do Ketoconazole and Econazole cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for a tube of Nizoral (ketoconazole) 2% cream, which contains around 60g, averages around $80. Depending on how much you need to apply and where on your body it's required, this could last anywhere from 15 days to a month or more.
  • The price for Spectazole (econazole nitrate) 1% cream is about $170 for a similar-sized tube.

Thus, if you are applying the creams once daily over a large area of skin, then brand-name econazole might be less cost-effective compared to ketoconazole. However, keep in mind that cost should not be the sole factor when deciding between these medications; their effectiveness and potential side effects must also be considered.

For the generic versions of ketoconazole and econazole:

  • Ketoconazole (2% cream) typically costs between $10-$20 per tube depending on pharmacy pricing.
  • Econazole (1% cream), however, tends to stay within higher range costing approximately $50-$70 per tube.

Though prices can vary based upon location and availability. As always with medication decisions consult with your healthcare provider before choosing treatment options.

Popularity of Ketoconazole and Econazole

Ketoconazole, both in generic form and under brand names such as Nizoral, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 2.3 million people in the US in 2020. Ketoconazole accounted for roughly 22% of antifungal prescriptions in the US. It has a broad spectrum of activity against many fungi and is often used for severe fungal infections that fail to respond to other treatments.

Econazole, including brand versions like Spectazole, was prescribed to approximately 1.9 million individuals across the USA during the same year. Econazole represents just over 18% of all antifungal prescriptions and slightly less than ketoconazole overall but it's generally considered equally effective with fewer side effects reported by patients.

The prevalence of ketoconazole has been decreasing since around 2013 due to concerns regarding liver toxicity while econazole usage remained somewhat stable over this period.


Both ketoconazole and econazole are antifungal medications that have a long history of use in treating fungal infections. They both work by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, an essential component of fungal cell membranes. This action disrupts the growth and replication of the fungus, leading to its elimination from the body.

Ketoconazole is often prescribed for systemic fungal infections due to its broad-spectrum activity against many types of fungi. Econazole, on the other hand, is primarily used topically for skin and nail infections because it has excellent penetration into these tissues.

Both drugs are available in generic form which can lead to significant cost savings for patients paying out-of-pocket. The onset time varies depending upon several factors such as type and location of infection.

Side effects between these two drugs differ significantly due to their different routes of administration - oral (ketoconazole) versus topical (econazole). Ketoconazole can cause gastrointestinal upset including nausea or vomiting while econazole may lead to local irritation at application site like redness or itching. Regardless, close monitoring during treatment with either drug should be practiced and any unusual symptoms should prompt immediate medical attention.