Metronidazole is commonly prescribed to treat several types of bacterial and parasitic infections. As an antibiotic, it works to fight infections by entering bacteria or parasite cells and producing free radicals, molecules that can damage and destroy cells. The medication comes in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, skin creams and lotions, and vaginal creams, depending on the particular product.

What Is Metronidazole?

Metronidazole (Flagyl®, MetroCream®, MetroGel®, MetroGel-Vaginal®, MetroLotion®, Noritate®, Vandazole®) is a prescription antibiotic approved to treat a variety of different infections. It comes in several different forms, such as tablets, skin creams and lotions, or vaginal cream. The medication is especially useful for infections caused by parasites and anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that do not require oxygen to survive).
(Click What is Metronidazole Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

How Does It Work?

In order to work, metronidazole must enter the bacteria or parasite cell. The cells then cause a chemical reaction to occur with the medication. This reaction produces free radicals, molecules that can damage and destroy cells. This is presumably how metronidazole works to kill bacteria or parasites.

When and How to Take This Medication

General considerations for those taking metronidazole include the following:
  • This medication comes in several different forms. The particular directions for each product can vary substantially, so be sure to refer to the information for your specific product.
  • You can take regular, short-acting metronidazole tablets or capsules with food or on an empty stomach. However, long-acting, extended-release metronidazole tablets must be taken on an empty stomach, at least one hour before or two hours after a meal.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not miss doses or stop taking this antibiotic earlier than your healthcare provider recommends, as bacterial resistance may develop.
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Metronidazole Antibiotic Information

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