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Griseofulvin

Dr Tom Bracewell
Reviewed by Dr Tom BracewellReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 2 minutes read
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Griseofulvin is an antifungal medication, available in several formulations including tablets and an oral liquid, which is only available on prescription. It is commonly used to treat tinea capitis (also known as scalp ringworm). It is also used to treat fungal nail and skin infections that have not responded to creams.

Tinea capitis mainly affects young children, and the condition typically presents as scaly, itchy, bald patches on the head. Oral griseofulvin should be taken with a fatty meal to increase absorption of the medication into the body. This also makes it less likely for griseofulvin to upset your stomach. It is best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking oral griseofulvin as it can cause an unpleasant reaction resulting in flushing, vomiting, and a fast heart rate (tachycardia).

Who is it for?

Griseofulvin can be prescribed to adults and children aged one month and above. The doses for children are calculated based on their weight.

How does it work?

Griseofulvin works by killing the fungi responsible for the infection, which leads to a relief of symptoms. However, even if your symptoms go, you should continue taking griseofulvin for the full course you have been prescribed. This is because some of the fungi may still be alive and stopping too early can cause your symptoms to return. Finishing the full course ensures the infection is fully cleared.

Are there any side effects?

Whilst uncommon, some people may experience side effects. If you develop any bothersome side effects, stop taking the medication and speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Some common side effects from griseofulvin can include nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhoea, and stomach ache. Occasionally drowsiness can occur. If you experience drowsiness, it is best to avoid driving or operating any machinery. Some people find that griseofulvin increases the sensitivity of their skin to sunlight. Therefore, it is best to protect your skin from bright sunlight and avoid using sunbeds until you know how the medication affects you.

Who should not take the medication?

As always, you should not take the medication if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in it. If you have an inflammatory condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a blood disorder called porphyria, or severe liver disease, then griseofulvin tablets and oral liquid are not suitable for you. Griseofulvin can interact with other medications such as warfarin (an anticoagulant), oral contraceptives, and certain medications used for epilepsy.

Griseofulvin is not recommended during pregnancy because it is thought to increase the risk of birth defects (teratogenic). For this reason, women should avoid getting pregnant when taking griseofulvin and for at least one month after treatment. Griseofulvin can also damage sperm leading to foetal abnormalities. Therefore, men taking griseofulvin should avoid fathering a child during treatment and for at least six months after, until their sperm have recovered. Griseofulvin is also not usually recommended during breastfeeding due to the lack of safety information available.

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Dr Tom Bracewell
Reviewed by Dr Tom Bracewell
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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