Home Medicines Nystatin: effect, areas of application, side effects

Nystatin: effect, areas of application, side effects

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 162 views

Nystatin is one of the most important active ingredients against diseases caused by Candida fungal infestation. Since the active ingredient has only a local effect, side effects occur only very rarely. Drugs with nystatin are considered the drug of choice even for pregnant and breastfeeding women and may also be used in small children. Here you can read everything you need to know about nystatin.

This is how nystatin works

Nystatin is an antifungal agent from the polyene group. It has a fungicidal (fungicidal) effect on dormant and dividing yeast fungi (Candida species).

One of the functions of the human immune system is to protect the body from foreign invaders such as fungi. As soon as a pathogen finds its way into the organism, the body reacts immediately and fights it with various mechanisms.

As a rule, the affected person does not notice anything when his immune system is active. Sometimes, however, the body does not immediately manage to successfully fight the pathogens.

This is particularly the case with a weakened immune system, such as with HIV disease, after long-term use of antibiotics or chemotherapy . In this case, pathogens such as fungal cells can invade the body, leading to severe symptoms of the disease.

The active ingredient nystatin helps the body to fight fungi from the Candida group. It attaches itself to the membrane of the fungal cells, which causes pores to form in them and many charged particles (especially potassium ions) to flow out of the cell. This disturbs the metabolism of the fungal cell – it dies.

intake, degradation and excretion

After taking it by mouth , the active substance nystatin is practically not absorbed from the intestine into the blood . Therefore, it can be used well for the local treatment of a fungal infestation in the intestine. It will be excreted in the stool.

Even when applied to the skin , practically no active substance is absorbed. Its effect is limited to the place where it is applied.

When is Nystatin used?

The areas of application (indications) of Nystatin include:

  • Fungal attack by Candida fungi on the skin, nails , corners of the mouth, mucous membranes (e.g. vaginal thrush )
  • Fungal infestation by Candida fungi in the mouth, throat , esophagus and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. oral thrush )

How Nystatin is used

The active substance is used in the form of ointments for the skin and mucous membranes, as a vaginal tablet and oral gel, as well as in the form of suspensions or tablets for oral administration. That dosage form is selected with which the fungal disease can be treated most specifically.

In the case of a skin disease, for example, only the affected skin area is treated with a nystatin ointment. With an infection of the esophagus or the entire gastrointestinal tract, nystatin tablets or suspensions help best.

For fungal infections in the mouth and throat, keep the nystatin suspension in your mouth for as long as possible before swallowing.

The dosage is very different due to the many different ways of administration. Patients should always follow the dosage specified in the package leaflet or ask the doctor or pharmacist.

It should be noted that the dosage of the active ingredient is not given in milligrams, but in “IE” (= international units). This makes it possible to dose the active ingredient according to the individual effect rather than the quantity.

Especially with fungal diseases, it is very important that patients adhere to the specified dosage and application recommendations. If a drug with nystatin is dosed too low or used irregularly, resistance can develop, as with all other antifungal agents (the pathogens become insensitive to the active ingredient).

Therefore, at the end of the therapy, it must be ensured that the fungal disease has completely healed in order to avoid a new outbreak. The treatment is therefore usually continued for a few days after the symptoms have subsided.

What are the side effects of nystatin?

Because the effect is mostly local, nystatin side effects are relatively rare. These include hypersensitivity reactions in the case of nystatin ointment (applied to the skin), and additional gastrointestinal problems in the case of nystatin tablets or nystatin suspension (taken by mouth).

What should be considered when taking nystatin?


The active substance must not be used if there is a known hypersensitivity to nystatin. If symptoms of an allergy (such as redness, itching ) occur during use, the drug should be discontinued and the doctor treating you should be consulted.


There are no known interactions with other drugs.

When using a nystatin ointment in the genital or anal area, depending on the composition of the ointment, the tear strength of latex products ( condoms , diaphragms ) may be reduced. Therefore, read the respective package leaflet carefully in advance.

age restriction

In the case of drugs that are taken by mouth, the high osmolarity of the active ingredient must be taken into account. “High osmolarity” means that the drug attracts a lot of water from the surrounding cell environment.

This is not a problem in adults, but it can cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies. Therefore, the use of nystatin in newborns and underweight infants is not recommended.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

Due to the very specific and locally limited effect of nystatin, the active ingredient is considered the drug of choice during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The level of experience is high and no harmful effects on the child have been identified.

How to get medication with nystatin

Drugs with nystatin are available over the counter in pharmacies in Germany. In Austria and Switzerland, on the other hand, they require a prescription and can only be obtained with a valid prescription.

Since when is nystatin known?

The active ingredient nystatin was discovered in 1948 as the first powerful antifungal agent and has since saved countless lives. To date, nystatin is considered to be very effective in superficial fungal diseases and is therefore still used frequently.

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