Is your anti-fungal Fungicidal or Fungistatic? And why does that even matter?


AntifungalAn article published in the American Journal of Dermatology notes that “Pharmacologic agents applied to the surface of the skin in the form of creams, lotions, or sprays, readily penetrate into the stratum corneum to kill the fungi (fungicidal agents), or at least render them unable to grow or divide (fungistatic agents).  Azole drugs such as clotrimazole are fungistatic, limiting fungal growth but depending on epidermal turnover to shed the still-living fungus from the skin surface. Allylamines and benzylamines such as terbinafine, naftifine, and butenafine are fungicidal, actually killing the fungal organisms. Fungicidal drugs are often preferred over fungistatic drugs for treatment of dermatophytic fungal infections”. 1

Cliff notes please!  An easier definition is that anything “-cidal” kills the organism and anything “-static” causes the organism to stay the same and keep it from growing.  So, if a drug is Fungicidal, the drug is killing the organism.  If a drug is Fungistatic, the drug is keeping the infection from getting worse.

If you are unsure which type the anti-fungal you are using is, here is a list of the most common anti-fungals used in over the counter products.

  • Fungistatic: Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Fluconazole, Itraconazole,
  • Fungicidal: Terbinafine, Naftifine, Butenafine
  • Fungistatic and Fungicidal: Tolnaftate

1.  Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(6):443-51.

*Dr. Canuso Skincare for Feet products use 1% Tolnaftate, which is FDA registered to treat AND prevent foot fungus.  For more information, visit