Background Tinea capitis is the most common dermatophytosis of childhood with increasing incidence. Whereas griseofulvin is considered by many as the mainstay of treatment, newer oral antifungal agents, including fluconazole, itraconazole and terbinafine have demonstrated higher efficacy, resulting in shorter treatment durations.
Objectives We aimed to determine the optimum regimen for the treatment of childhood tinea capitis with itraconazole.
Methods A mycological culture outcome-dependent combination of a 28-day continuous and facultative additional 14-day courses with itraconazole was used in 42 children (20 girls; 22 boys) aged 12–140 months (mean 66) with tinea capitis due to Microsporum canis (n = 26) and Trichophyton violaceum (n = 16). The drug was given orally according to the patients’ body weight (50 mg daily for < 20 kg; 100 mg daily for ≥ 20 kg) over 4 weeks. Direct microscopy and fungal culture as a parameter for efficacy were repeated 2 weeks after termination of treatment. Assessment of efficacy was based on the evaluation of results from light microscopy and culture at 8 weeks after initiation of treatment, and in the case of a further positive mycological culture at 14 and 20 weeks, respectively. A positive fungal culture at these times resulted in an additional course for 2 weeks with the initially chosen itraconazole dosage.
Results In 34 of 42 patients a single 4-week course of itraconazole resulted in a complete mycological cure of lesions as demonstrated by light microscopy and mycological culture. Four of 42 patients had to be treated by a second itraconazole course for 2 weeks, and four children received a third course of itraconazole for 2 weeks until all lesions showed negative direct microscopy and mycological culture. No abnormal haematological or biochemical results occurred. Apart from transient, completely reversible indigestion in two children, no side-effects were observed.
Conclusions A culture-based 28-day continuous therapeutic regimen plus facultative cultural outcome-dependent additional 14-day courses of a body weight-adapted dosage of itraconazole in tinea capitis due to M. canis and T. violaceum is discussed; this offers the advantage of an effective therapy with complete negative direct microscopy as well as negative cultural results, within a shorter active treatment period (cf. previous studies with continuous administration of itraconazole).