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Griseofulvin tablets

BMJ Group Medical Reference


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

Do they work?

We're not sure. There hasn't been enough research on griseofulvin tablets.

We know that other treatments, such as terbinafine tablets and itraconazole tablets, work well.

What are they?

Griseofulvin is an antibiotic. It is designed to kill bacteria, not the fungi that cause fungal nail infections. The brand name for griseofulvin tablets is Grisovin.

Griseofulvin is an old drug and there are better treatments now.

How can they help?

Griseofulvin tablets don't work very well. Between 1 in 10 and 6 in 10 people may be helped, but you probably need to take these tablets for at least six months, and not many people want to take an antibiotic for that long. [18]

How do they work?

Griseofulvin is an antibiotic that slows the growth of some fungi.

Can they be harmful?

The side effects of griseofulvin are usually mild and go away when you stop taking the tablets. They include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and headache. [20]

How good is the research on griseofulvin tablets?

There isn't a lot of evidence on how well griseofulvin tablets work.

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 that made the products

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

The summary included three studies that compared griseofulvin tablets with itraconazole tablets. [18] These were fairly small studies. One included just 19 people. The largest included 108 people. None of the studies found any difference between the two treatments.

Three studies compared griseofulvin tablets with terbinafine tablets. [18] In all the studies terbinafine worked better than griseofulvin.

About 1 in 2 people who took griseofulvin tablets every day (for at least 24 weeks) got rid of their fungal infection. But about 3 in 4 people who took terbinafine tablets (for at least 16 weeks) got rid of their infection.

Two studies compared griseofulvin tablets with ketoconazole tablets. [18] But the studies were small so the results may not be reliable. Ketoconazole tablets aren't used any more to treat nail infections, because in rare cases they can cause fatal liver damage.



These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.


A fungus is an organism that is sometimes considered to be a type of plant. A fungus lives by feeding on other organisms. The mushrooms we eat in salads are fungi, but so are candida and cryptococcus, which can cause infections in people's bodies.

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

systematic reviews

A systematic review is a thorough look through published research on a particular topic. Only studies that have been carried out to a high standard are included. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis, which is when the results from individual studies are put together.

For more terms related to Fungal nail infection


For references related to Fungal nail infection click here.
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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