Terbinafine

Sounds like 'ter-BIN-uh-feen'

Terbinafine is an antifungal used to treat infections caused by fungi. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Terbinafine is commonly called Lamisil.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Anti-fungal
  • Used to treat fungal infections
  • Terbinafine-DRLA®
  • Lamisil®
  • Deolate®

What is terbinafine?

Terbinafine is used to treat some fungal infections, eg, fungal infections of your toenail, fingernail, skin or scalp. Terbinafine works by stopping the growth of the fungus. It's one of a group of medicines known as antifungals. Read more about fungal infections (also called tinea).

In New Zealand terbinafine is available as tablets, cream, gel or spray. The tablets are available on prescription only, but the cream, gel and spray can be bought over the counter at your pharmacy. 

Dose

  • Tablets: The usual dose of terbinafine tablets is 250 milligrams (1 tablet) once a day. Depending on where the fungal infection is, your doctor will prescribe a course of terbinafine that lasts from a few weeks to a few months. 
  • Cream and gel: Apply to the infected area once or twice daily.   
  • Spray: Spray on the affected area once daily. 

How to take terbinafine tablets

  • Timing: Take terbinafine tablets at the same time each day, either in the morning OR in the evening. You can take terbinafine with or without food.
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. If it's nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.
  • Keep taking terbinafine every day, until the course is finished: It may take several months after you finish treatment to see the full benefit of terbinafine. When used to treat nail infections, it takes time for your new healthy nails to grow out and replace the infected nails.

Things to consider when taking terbinafine

Let your doctor know if you have any liver or kidney problems, or a skin condition called psoriasis.

Terbinafine can affect your blood cells and your liver. You may need blood tests before you start and while you are taking terbinafine to check your liver function (how well it is working).

Terbinafine can interact with some medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting terbinafine and before starting any new medicines.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, terbinafine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Headache
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • These are quite common when you first start taking terbinafine and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if they bother you.
  • Change in your sense of smell or taste
  • Hearing loss
  • Worsening skin rash
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Ongoing muscle pain or weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Terbinafine can cause muscle problems – this is very rare.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of problems with your blood cells, such as mouth ulcers, fever, chills, sore throat
  • Terbinafine can affect your blood cells – this is serious but very rare.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of your skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in your abdomen (tummy), nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting (being sick)
  • Terbinafine can affect your liver – this is serious but very rare.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

The following links have more information on terbinafine.

Terbinafine NZ Formulary Patient Information
Terbinafine SafeRx

References

  1. Terbinafine NZ Formulary

Useful resources for healthcare professionals

Terbinafine-DRLA tablets Medsafe, NZ
Terbinafine – safe prescribing - nail it SafeRx, NZ
Tinea pedis – not just the curse of the athlete BPAC, NZ, 2014
Management of fungal nail infections BPAC, NZ, 2009

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 22 Dec 2020