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.
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What is terbinafine?
Terbinafine is used to treat some fungal infections, such as 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.
- 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 two times 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.
Precautions while taking terbinafine
Before starting terbinafine
- Do you have problems with your liver or kidneys?
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Do you have a skin condition called psoriasis or an autoimmune disease such as lupus?
If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start terbinafine. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
While taking terbinafine
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 blood cells and see how well your liver is working.
What are the side effects of terbinafine?
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.
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Terbinafine may interact with a few medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting terbinafine and before starting any new medicines.
The following links have more information on terbinafine.
- 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