Background.  Dermatophytes are the major responsible organisms in onychomycosis. Although recent antifungal agents have high success rates in treating this condition, lack of clinical response may occur in 20%. Antifungal drug resistance may be one of the causes of treatment failure. The need for in vitro antifungal drug resistance in daily practice is still under discussion.

Objective.  We aimed to determine the in vitro susceptibility patterns of dermatophytes causing onychomycosis, against the traditionally available systemic antifungal agents terbinafine, itraconazole and fluconazole.

Methods.  In total, 100 otherwise healthy patients with suspected onychomycosis were included. Nail clippings were cultured on Sabouraud dexrose agar, mycobiotic agar and dermatophyte test medium. Antifungal susceptibility tests were carried out, mainly following The National Committee for Clinical and Laboratory Standards (M38-P) protocol standard for filamentous fungi. Different concentrations of terbinafine (0.008–8 µg/mL), itraconazole (0.015–16 µg/mL) and fluconazole (0.06–64 µg/mL) were tested. Minimum inhibitory concentration end-point determination was chosen as 100% growth inhibition for terbinafine and 80% for azoles.

Results.  Of the 100 nail samples, 43% grew dermatophytes. The main causative organism was Trichophyton rubrum (91%) followed by Trichophyton mentagrophytes (9%). Terbinafine had the lowest minimum inhibitory concentration (0.008 µg/mL) followed by itraconazole. Fluconazole showed the greatest variation in minimum inhibitory concentration (0.03–2 µg/mL) and had different susceptibility patterns for the two species.

Conclusions.  Of the three antifungals tested, terbinafine had the most potent in vitro antifungal activity against dermatophytes. Antifungal susceptibility tests would be useful to screen antifungal-resistant dermatophyte strains.