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Summary

The analysis of comparative efficacy and safety of topical antifungals in the literature is restricted to the treatment of tinea pedis and onychomycosis. Therefore our objective was to evaluate and compare the efficacy and safety of topical antifungals used in the treatment of dermatomycosis, we performed a comprehensive search for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the following databases: Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, Lilacs and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, we identified studies that compared the use of topical antifungals with other antifungals or with placebo published up to July 2010 in English, Spanish or Portuguese. The quality of reporting was assessed according to the Jadad scale; only studies with a score of 3 or more were included. The outcomes evaluated were mycological cure at the end of treatment, sustained cure, occurrence of adverse events and tolerability, including withdrawals due to adverse events. A total of 104 RCTs satisfied the inclusion criteria, containing a total of 135 comparisons, with 55 out of 120 possible comparisons among the 16 drugs evaluated. Pooled data on efficacy showed that all the antifungals were better than placebo. There were no significant differences among antifungal classes. No differences were found in safety or tolerability in any direct comparison. Sensitivity analysis indicated the robustness of the findings. Our results indicate the clear superiority of topical antifungals over placebo but that there is no consistent difference among classes. Mixed treatment comparisons are necessary to rank antifungals, as direct comparisons among many of them are lacking.