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Fluconazole tablets

BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for people who have a fungal nail infection. It tells you about fluconazole tablets, a treatment used for fungal nail infections. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Do they work?

Probably. If you take fluconazole tablets you may be more likely to get rid of your fungal nail infection than if you don't have treatment. But you'll probably need to take it for several months.

Fluconazole tablets don't seem to work as well as two other tablets for fungal nail infection, itraconazole and terbinafine.

What are they?

Fluconazole is an antifungal drug. It's used to treat various infections that are caused by fungi. But it is not usually used for treating nail infections in the UK.

The brand name for fluconazole tablets is Diflucan.

How can they help?

About 3 in 10 people get rid of their fungal nail infection when they take fluconazole tablets for about four months. [18] You will be more likely to be cured if you take the tablets for at least six months. [18]

More people seem to get rid of their fungal nail infections with other treatments. But there haven't been any good-quality studies comparing fluconazole with itraconazole tablets or terbinafine tablets.

How do they work?

Like most antifungal drugs, fluconazole stops the fungus growing. [19] So eventually it will die. This will allow new nail to grow normally.

Can they be harmful?

You may get diarrhoea, a rash, or breathing problems with any kind of antifungal tablets. [18] But these problems are usually mild and not many people get them. They usually go away when you stop taking the tablets.

Sometimes people get more serious side effects. These are rare but it is important to know about them. Occasionally, fluconazole can cause liver problems, so you may need to have regular tests. You should go to your doctor straight away if you get any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dark urine.

How good is the research on fluconazole tablets?

There isn't a lot of evidence for fluconazole tablets.

We found one summary of the research (called a systematic review). [18] This compared the results of many studies (called randomised controlled trials) of tablets used to treat fungal nail infections. It is difficult to draw many conclusions from the studies because:

  • Most of the studies were paid for by the pharmaceutical companies which made the products

  • Researchers had different ways of deciding whether fungal nail infections had been cured.

The summary found two studies on fluconazole tablets. [18] Together these studies included nearly 700 people. They found that between 3 and 5 people out of 10 got rid of their fungal nail infection after taking fluconazole for between 16 and 39 weeks. Also, the chance of being cured was greater with a higher dose of fluconazole. Less than 1 in 10 people who took a dummy medicine (a placebo) were cured.

Last Updated: December 05, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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