If you have a fungal skin infection, your doctor may prescribe a topical form of nystatin for you. (A topical drug is applied to the skin.)

Nystatin is an antifungal drug used in adults and children to treat fungal skin infections caused by certain kinds of a yeast called Candida.

Nystatin basics

Nystatin comes as a topical cream, ointment, and powder. It also comes in forms taken by mouth, but those are not covered in this article. For the topical forms, it’s important that you use them on your skin only. You should not swallow topical forms of nystatin.

Nystatin brand-name versions

Nystatin is a generic drug, which means it’s an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The brand-name medication that nystatin powder is based on is called Nystop. Nystatin cream and ointment aren’t available as brand-name medications.

Generic drugs are thought to be as safe and effective as the brand-name drug they’re based on. In general, generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.

If you’d like to know more about using Nystop instead of nystatin powder, talk with your doctor. You can also read this article to learn more about the differences between generic and brand-name drugs.

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about nystatin.

How does nystatin compare with other similar drugs, such as triamcinolone?

The table below briefly describes how nystatin compares with triamcinolone, clotrimazole, miconazole, and fluconazole. These are other drugs that treat fungal skin infections.

DrugFormsPrescription or over-the-counter (OTC)
nystatin (Nystop)• topical cream
• topical ointment
• topical powder
• liquid suspension (a kind of liquid mixture) that you swallow
• tablet that you swallow
• prescription
triamcinolone (Triderm, Kenalog, Trianex)• topical cream
• topical lotion
• topical ointment
• solution given as an injection
• topical spray
• nasal spray
• prescription
• nasal spray is also available OTC
clotrimazole (Trivagizole 3)• topical cream
• topical solution
• vaginal cream
• prescription
• vaginal cream is also available OTC
miconazole (Monistat, Oravig)• vaginal cream
vaginal suppository
• prescription
• OTC
fluconazole (Diflucan)• liquid suspension that you swallow
• solution given as an injection
• tablet that you swallow
• prescription

If you have questions about how nystatin compares with other antifungal drugs, talk with your doctor.

Is nystatin used to treat thrush?

Yes. The nystatin liquid suspension, which you swallow, is prescribed to treat thrush.

This article doesn’t cover the liquid suspension form. To learn more about nystatin oral solution and how it’s used to treat thrush, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You should not use topical nystatin forms to treat thrush and do not swallow any nystatin topical product.

Is nystatin an antibiotic?

No, nystatin is an antifungal, which means it’s used to treat infections caused by fungi. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections (infections caused by bacteria).

To learn more about how nystatin is used to treat fungal infections, see the “What is nystatin used for?” section below.

How do the side effects of nystatin topical forms compare with those of oral forms?

Side effects caused by topical forms of nystatin are different from those caused by oral forms.

The topical forms are applied to the skin, and they’re not absorbed by the rest of your body. Side effects of these forms include itching, burning, and rash at or around the area where you’ve applied nystatin.

On the other hand, the oral forms of the drug are swallowed and absorbed by your entire body. Examples of side effects that nystatin tablets can cause include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and other digestive symptoms.

Both topical and oral forms of nystatin may cause a skin rash. This is much more common with topical forms of nystatin, but in rare cases, it can occur with an oral form of nystatin.

To learn more about how the topical and oral forms of nystatin compare, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Does nystatin expire?

Yes, nystatin does expire. In most cases, when a drug expires it means the medication may be less effective. In rare cases, expired drugs can be toxic and cause side effects, but this isn’t expected with nystatin.

When you pick up your prescription, your pharmacist can show you on the label the date that nystatin expires. This date is typically 1 year from the date you pick up your prescription, but check the prescription label for the exact expiration date of your drug. If you have any questions, you can ask your pharmacist.

What do I do if nystatin is not working?

If you think nystatin isn’t working to treat your infection, talk with your doctor. They’ll determine whether you should continue taking nystatin or try a different treatment instead.

When your doctor prescribes nystatin, ask them how to monitor whether your infection is improving with treatment. They can tell you about signs to watch for that may mean nystatin is not working for you.

Like most drugs, nystatin may cause mild or serious side effects (also known as adverse effects). The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that nystatin may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you take

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the possible side effects of nystatin. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that nystatin can cause. Side effects of the nystatin powder, cream, and ointment are expected to be the same.

To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also read nystatin’s prescribing information for the cream, ointment, and topical powder.

Mild side effects of nystatin that have been reported include:

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from nystatin can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from nystatin, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Severe allergic reaction is a serious side effect of nystatin. To learn more, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to nystatin. Mild allergic reactions have rarely been reported with nystatin cream, ointment, and topical powder.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. However, severe allergic reactions aren’t expected when nystatin topical forms are applied to your skin as directed by your doctor. But it’s still important to be aware of the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to nystatin. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

The topical forms of nystatin are used to treat fungal skin infections caused by certain kinds of a yeast called Candida. The drug can be used in adults and in children of any age.

The main symptom of a fungal infection caused by Candida is a skin rash, which commonly causes itching. In some cases, the infected skin may become sore and cracked.

Candida fungi grow in places that are moist and warm. Candidiasis of the skin is most common in areas such as:

  • creases between your fingers
  • armpits
  • groin
  • the area underneath the breasts
  • in nails or around nail edges
  • corners of the mouth

Candida fungi can also grow in areas covered by a diaper. In some cases, nystatin may be used to treat diaper rash.

The topical forms of nystatin should not be used to treat infections that affect the:

  • entire body
  • eyes
  • mouth or throat
  • vagina

It’s important that you use a topical form of nystatin on your skin only. Do not swallow a topical form of nystatin. And you should only apply the drug to the area of the skin affected by the infection, as directed by your doctor.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of nystatin that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always use the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Forms and strengths

Nystatin is available in three topical forms: cream, ointment, and powder.

Each form is available in one strength: 100,000 units of nystatin per 1 gram (g) of the cream, ointment, or powder.

Recommended dosages

To treat a fungal skin infection, you’ll apply nystatin to the affected area of the skin as directed by your doctor. They’ll explain how much nystatin to use for each dose.

The table below describes recommended dosages of nystatin. But your doctor will provide specific instructions on how and when to apply the form of nystatin you’re prescribed.

Nystatin formRecommended dosage
creamApply twice per day to the affected skin area.
ointmentApply twice per day to the affected skin area.
powderApply two or three times per day to the affected skin area.

Your doctor will also tell you how long you’ll need to use nystatin. You should use nystatin for the amount of time your doctor prescribes, even if your symptoms improve or the infection appears to go away shortly after starting treatment.

Questions about nystatin’s dosage

Below are some common questions about nystatin’s dosage.

  • What if I miss a dose of nystatin? If you miss a dose of nystatin, apply it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, just skip the missed dose and apply the next dose at its regular time. You should not use more nystatin than usual to make up for a missed dose.
  • Will I need to use nystatin long term? Nystatin is used to treat fungal skin infections. You’ll stop using nystatin once the infection is cleared. Your doctor can let you know how long you’ll use nystatin.
  • How long does nystatin take to work? Nystatin begins working to treat your infection once you apply the first dose. How long it takes to treat your infection depends on several factors, including how severe your infection is.

Before you begin treatment with nystatin, talk with your doctor. Tell them about your complete medical history and any medications you may take. They’ll want to check for interactions with nystatin.

Interactions

Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.

Before taking nystatin, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with nystatin.

For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Warnings” section below.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

Currently, there aren’t any medications or supplements known to interact with nystatin topical forms. But this doesn’t mean drug interactions with nystatin topical forms won’t be recognized in the future. For example, new medications may be approved that interact with nystatin topical forms. For this reason, you should tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you take besides nystatin. This way, they can check for any new interactions during your treatment.

It’s important to note that you should not apply another topical medication to the area of skin where you apply nystatin without first talking with your doctor.

If you use another topical drug that you usually apply to the area that’s infected, ask your doctor whether it’s safe to use with nystatin.

Warnings

Nystatin can sometimes cause harmful effects in people who have certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether nystatin is a good treatment option for you.

Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take nystatin. Factors to consider include those described below.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to nystatin or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe nystatin. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.

Nystatin and alcohol

There’s no interaction between nystatin and alcohol. Because nystatin is applied to the skin, it’s not absorbed by the rest of your body and isn’t affected by alcohol.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It’s unknown whether nystatin is safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or breastfeed, talk with your doctor before using nystatin.

Your doctor will explain how you should use nystatin. They’ll also explain how much to use and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Applying nystatin

Nystatin comes in three topical forms: cream, ointment, and powder. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you how to apply nystatin to your skin infection.

You’ll apply nystatin cream or ointment to your skin from the medication tube using your fingers to rub the drug onto the affected skin.

Nystatin powder is “dusted” onto the affected skin area. If you’re using nystatin powder for an infection on your feet, you should also “dust” nystatin powder into shoes you’ll wear while you use nystatin.

What to do if you accidentally swallow nystatin

You should not swallow any topical form of nystatin. If you or someone else accidentally swallow a topical form of the drug, call 800-222-1222 to reach America’s Poison Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.

Accessible medication containers and labels

If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies provide medication labels that:

  • have large print
  • use braille
  • contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio

Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.

Financial assistance to help you pay for nystatin may be available. Medicine Assistance Tool and NeedyMeds are two websites that provide resources to help reduce the cost of nystatin.

These websites also offer tools to help you find low-cost healthcare and certain educational resources. To learn more, visit their websites.

If you have questions about nystatin, talk with your doctor before you begin treatment. Examples of questions you may want to ask include:

  • What kind of test will I need to know whether nystatin will work to treat my skin infection?
  • Which form of nystatin will work best to treat my infection?
  • Can other people be affected if they accidentally touch my skin where I’ve applied nystatin?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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