The Uses and Side Effects of Canesten

Canesten is a medication that contains clotrimazole as the active substance is clotrimazole. It's for the treatment of superficial fungal infections, including vaginal infections. How do you use it? Continue reading as we'll tell you all about it.
The Uses and Side Effects of Canesten
Fabiola Marín Aguilar

Written and verified by the pharmacist Fabiola Marín Aguilar.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

You can find Canesten as a cream or powder for cutaneous use, as a soft capsule, or also as a vaginal tablet, depending on the treatment you require. Clotrimazole is its active substance. So, stick around as we’ll tell you what are the uses and possible side effects of Canesten.

Uses and therapeutic indications of fatigue

Canesten is for the topical treatment of superficial fungal infections caused by dermatophytes, fungi, and yeasts, such as:

  • Dermatophyte infections: tinea (Tinea pedis, tinea manuum, tinea cruris, and tinea corporis)
  • Pityriasis Versicolor
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis
  • Candidiasis Balanitis

Canesten – how it works

Clotrimazole is an antifungal derived from the imidazole group, which prevents the growth of fungi. Thus, it acts at the level of the synthesis of ergosterol, a sterol that composes the cell membrane of fungi and some yeasts.

The inhibition of ergosterol synthesis causes the structural and functional alteration of the cytoplasmic membrane. This results in a change in membrane permeability, which ultimately causes cell rupture.

A clotrimazole sign.
Canestén is a medication that contains clotrimazole as the active substance. It’s for the treatment of fungal infections.

How do you apply Canesten?

The form of administration is usually cutaneous or directly in the vulva. The duration of treatment depends on the location and extent of the fungal infection. In general, doctors recommend the following:

  • Dermatophyte infections: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Pityriasis Versicolor: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis or candidiasis balanitis: 1 to 2 weeks

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are other formats of this drug available on the market. Some are for the treatment of vaginal inflammation and come either as vaginal tablets or a vaginal cream with an applicator. Their use will depend on the location of the infection.

The instructions for Canesten advise you to clean and dry the affected areas very well before applying it. Then, you should apply a thin layer of cream on the affected area and its surrounding areas. Finally, do a light massage until the skin completely absorbs the cream. You should apply it 2 to 3 times a day.

Note that a ribbon of cream of approximately 3/4 of an inch, is enough to treat an area of the size of the hand — both sides. (3/4 inches are about the same length of the top phalanx of an index finger.)

You may be interested: 5 Tips for Preventing Vaginal Yeast Infections


You shouldn’t use Canesten if you suffer from hypersensitivity to clotrimazole, to any other antifungal of the imidazole group, or any of its excipients.

Possible side effects of Canesten

Some of the most common possible side effects of Canesten are:

  • Problems in the immune system, such as allergic reactions (syncope, hypotension, dyspnea, hives).
  • Skin and subcutaneous tissue problems such as blisters, edema, erythema, pruritus, burning sensation, irritation, rash, and so on.

These symptoms don’t usually mean you should stop the treatment, and are more frequent during the first days using clotrimazole.

What are the effects of Canesten?

Canesten can lead to side effects in the immune system level and on the skin. However, not all people experience them.

Is Canesten safe for candidiasis during pregnancy?

Generally, candidiasis isn’t a risk during pregnancy and it doesn’t impair fetal development as is the case with some sexually transmitted diseases and other infections. In fact, clotrimazole is one of the medications women commonly use during pregnancy.

This is because both experimental and after-marketing research reveal that there are no harmful effects on a mother and her child when they use Canesten during pregnancy. However, you must evaluate the benefits of using the medication before administering it during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

You may be interested: 6 Habits That Cause Vaginal Yeast Infections

Furthermore, a recent study revealed that women suffering from candida during the second trimester of pregnancy are at higher risk of preterm birth and having an underweight baby than those with candida during their first trimester of pregnancy.

Although this type of infection doesn’t pose a risk for an unborn baby, they can still contract it at the time of delivery. Mothers transmit candidiasis to their child when the latter comes into contact with their vagina during natural birth. Thus, if you think you might have a vaginal candidiasis infection while you’re pregnant then you must run it by your doctor.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Agencia Española del Medicamento (2019). Centro de información del medicamento. Ficha técnica. Canestén. Disponible en:
  • Rang HP, Dale MM (2012). Farmacología 7ª edición. Antimicóticos, 52: 652
  • Holzer I, Farr A, Kiss H, et al (2017). The colonization with Candida species is more harmful in the second trimester of pregnancy. Arch Gynecol Obstet, 295:891-895.
  • Ford N, Shubber Z, Jao J, Abrams EJ, Frigati L, Mofenson L. Safety of cotrimoxazole in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014;66(5):512–521. doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000000211

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.