Tolnaftate Vs Clotrimazole

While they are both anti-fungal in characteristic, the uses of Tolnaftate versus Clotrimazole vary in potency and location of the infection on the body.

What is a Fungal Infection?

A fungal infection is an overabundance of fungi that feed off tissue in our bodies. The most common tissue that attracts the fungi is keratin which can be found under our nails, on our skin and on our scalp. Another name for the fungi is dermatophytes.

Types of Fungal Infection

  • Athlete’s Foot - This is a very common fungal infection for those who visit gyms or locker rooms. Symptoms include a burning sensation and red, inflamed, itchy skin on the feet.
  • Vaginal Thrush - This exhibits symptoms such as redness of the vagina and vulva and can be itchy.
  • Nail Fungus – This is when nails (toenails or fingernails) are infected by the fungi and show signs of discoloration, thickening, or become weak.
  • Severe Dandruff – This can also be attributed to a fungal infection.
  • Ringworm – This causes a circular rash on the body and is also a fungal infection.
  • Oral Thrush – This is when a white, itchy film (fungi) coats the interior gums, cheeks, and tongue.
  • Tinea Versicolor - This is a common infection on the skin caused by an overabundance of a naturally occurring fungus on the skin. It causes color changes to the skin particularly on the upper body by the shoulders and chest.
  • Jock Itch - This is an infection in the groin area and is characterized by burning and itching in the affected area.

How do You Contract a Fungal Infection?

Fungi rapidly populate in spores in the air. Mold, mushrooms and mildew are all examples of fungi. They can be found living in moist areas like gardens, bodies of water and even in the air in humid areas. So we can breathe in fungi, it can attach to our skin, or it can be a common bacteria in our body that gets out of control. In normal amounts, our immune systems can fight them if we are healthy. Issues arise when our immune systems are compromised and the fungi are too many to kill off. Taking antibiotics leaves your immune system suppressed and susceptible to contracting a fungal infection. Cancer patients that are undergoing chemotherapy are also at high risk for fungal infections.

Treatments for Fungal Infections

To treat a fungal infection, an antifungal medicine is needed. Antifungals attack the fungi in different ways and that is why it is important to use the correct antifungal for your particular fungal infection. You can use a series of medicines that include tolnaftate, clotrimazole, miconazole and ketoconazole to mention a few. Below will be a review of just Tolnaftate verses Clotrimazole.


Tolnaftate fights infections of fungi throughout the body. It is more often than not used topically. The way that Tolnaftate functions is not entirely known. However, it is assumed that it attacks the growth of ergosterol which is in yeast. Fungi need yeast to live and spread and so when the ergosterol is stopped, so is the fungal infection. Squalene epoxidase is an enzyme that is in Tolnaftate that actively attacks Ergosterol.

How to use Tolnaftate

Tolnaftate is a topical cream and is used on the skin only. You should clean the affected area well before applying the medicine. It is extremely important to cover the entire affected area. Also important is to use the entire treatment doses.

Common Uses for Tolnaftate

Tolnaftate is usually prescribed for athlete's foot, jock itch and ringworm.

Side effects

Some reported side effects of Tolnaftate include rash, redness, itching and swelling.

Common over-the-counter brands of Tolnaftate

Tinactin, odor-eaters, absorbine, aftate are just a few names of Tolnaftate.

Forms of topical solutions of Tolnaftate

You can find Tolnaftate at your local pharmacy or drug store in ointment, powder, gel, spray and cream formats.


Clotrimazole is a medicine that combats fungal infection, much like Tolnaftate. The World Health Organization has marked Clotrimazole as an "essential for a basic health care setup." This is because it works by killing Candida (the yeast that fungi feed on) that is naturally occurring in areas of the body. It works by changing the permeability of the fungi so it cannot feed off the candida and multiply.

How to use Clotrimazole

Topical creams should be used to cover the entire affected area. Your doctor will tell you the frequency and amount to apply the cream.

Common uses for Clotrimazole

Athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm and vaginal thrush are all treated with Clotrimazole.

Side effects of Clotrimazole

Redness, burning, peeling, edema, irritation, vulvar lesions, hives, bleeding and blistering are all side effects of Clotrimazole.

Common brand names of Clotrimazole

Lotrimin, Lotrisone, and Mycelex are among the common names of Clotrimazole that you will find in your drug store or pharmacy.

Comparison of Tolnaftate vs Clotrimazole

So what's the difference? Although they are both antifungal medications, there is a time and a place to use each of these.

  • Tolnaftate is classified as a synthetic thiocarbonate and Clotrimazole is an azole.
  • Clotrimazole can be used in the vagina and oral cavity as well (as prescribed by a doctor). Tolnaftate is solely for topical application.
  • Tolnaftate is not safe for children while Clotrimazole is safe to use on children.
  • Tolnaftate acts both as a fungicide and also has properties to help prevent fungal infections. Clotrimazole is just a fungicide.

In order to really know the correct antifungal to use, you must see a doctor to diagnose your fungal infection.

Prevention of Fungal Infections

There are a few easy ways to prevent a fungal infection:

  • Wash your hands frequently and shower daily.
  • Clean your hands very well after using gym equipment.
  • Wear shoes in public places.
  • Don't swim in public pools.
  • Change socks/tight-fitting clothing frequently, especially after prolonged sweating.
  • If, you have a fungal infection, be sure to keep all these things in mind so that you don't spread it.
  • Reduce your sugar intake significantly as fungi feed on sugar.
  • Use soaps/shampoos that are scent-free and gentle.
  • Wear clothes that are loose so the oxygen in the air can help stop the fungi from spreading.

Sometimes, fighting a fungal infection becomes a prolonged fight. The antifungal medications will seem to be working but then the infection will come back. There are also some individuals who are prone to fungal infection for various reasons or circumstances. This usually results in alternative treatment that your doctor can discuss such as a stronger prescription-strength antifungal.

Although you can get antifungal medications over-the-counter such as Tolnaftate and Clotrimazole, it's good to incorporate natural remedies at the same time to help boost your immune system while fighting the infection. Apple Cider Vinegar is good to take diluted in a glass of water in the morning to help combat the infection. Another remedy would be to ingest and topically apply coconut oil to the fungal infection area. In addition, ingesting garlic three times a day will help your immune system recover and defend against the side effects of the antifungal medications as well.