The use of an intermittent terbinafine regimen for the treatment of dermatophyte toenail onychomycosis


Correspondence: AK Gupta. E-mail:



Objective  To compare the efficacy and safety of intermittent terbinafine with standard courses of terbinafine and itraconazole for dermatophyte toenail onychomycosis.

Design  Data from a Canadian study of continuous terbinafine (CTERB) and intermittent itraconazole (III) was compared to an intermittent terbinafine regimen (TOT) using similar protocol to the randomized study.

Interventions  Terbinafine 250 mg/day for 4 weeks followed by 4 weeks of no terbinafine and then an additional 4 weeks of terbinafine 250 mg/day (TOT); terbinafine 250 mg/day for 12 weeks (CTERB); itraconazole pulse of 200 mg twice daily for 7 days on, 21 days off, three pulses given (III).

Results  At 72 weeks, mycological cure rates (negative KOH and culture) were 36 of 43 (83.7%), 25 of 32 (78.1%), and 17 of 30 (56.7%), for the TOT, CTERB, and III groups, respectively (P = 0.01 for TOT vs. III). Effective cure rates (simultaneous mycological cure and ≤10% nail plate involvement) were 34 of 43 (79.1%), 21 of 32 (65.6%), and 11 of 30 (36.7%), respectively (P < 0.001 for TOT vs. III; P = 0.02 for CTERB vs. III). No significant differences in effective and mycological cure rates were noted between the two terbinafine groups. Adverse events reported were similar to those reported in the respective package inserts. Most adverse events were mild to moderate, transient, and did not require interruption of the drug regimens. No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusions  A TOT intermittent terbinafine regimen provided similar efficacy and safety to the gold standard continuous terbinafine regimen and better effective cure rates than pulse itraconazole therapy.

Conflicts of interest

None declared