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Medications with nystatin and triamcinolone acetonide are used to treat fungal skin infections. Nystatin is an antifungal drug, and triamcinolone is a corticosteroid. The first ingredient kills the fungus, and the triamcinolone helps to reduce the inflammation.
The infection that these drugs are designed to treat is caused by Candida albicans and related species. It comes in a cream or ointment form, and it is applied directly onto the skin. The combination medication is not suitable for infections that involve areas other than affected skin.
Nystatin attaches to the membrane of the Candida cell, where it affects the cell's ability to keep nutrients and essential substances inside. It only helps treat Candida infections and not those caused by other microbes, such as viruses. The drug itself is a natural product of another fungus called Streptomyces noursei.
Triamcinolone acetonide is part of a group of medicines known as corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation. It is unclear exactly how the triamcinolone works, but it probably has a similar mode of action to other corticosteroids: they enter human cells, bind to the genetic material inside, and encourage the production of molecules that affect the immune system's response to infection.
Treatment with nystatin and triamcinolone acetonide heals Candida skin infections quicker than the antifungal by itself, but they should only be used together for a period of less than two weeks. Nystatin can be used alone after the first few days of treatment when the triamcinolone has eased the inflammation. A typical treatment regimen of the cream or ointment involves the patient applying a layer to the affected area twice a day. The area should not be covered with a bandage because the fungus releases irritating toxins, and the bandage provides an environment where the microbe can grow more easily.
In rare cases, the nystatin component of the medicine can cause irritation. Topical corticosteroids as a group can produce a range of rare side effects, including irritation, skin color lightening, and excessive hair growth. The corticosteroid may also cause acne, thinning skin, and hair loss from the scalp.
Nystatin is not usually toxic, but triamcinolone can be absorbed through the skin into the body and an overdose can be toxic, though not very likely with topical application. These medications are suitable for most adults who are not pregnant or breast-feeding. Children are more sensitive to corticosteroids, so they should not use the medication long term.