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Study Finds Terbinafine Effective in Treating Toenail Fungus

Compared with itraconazole, drug linked to less recurrence of onychomycosis

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- The use of systemic terbinafine to treat a first episode of toenail onychomycosis may lead to better long-term success than itraconazole in patients who have a complete response, according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Bianca Maria Piraccini, M.D., of the University of Bologna in Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 73 patients who were successfully treated for toenail onychomycosis with either terbinafine or itraconazole.

The researchers found that 12 patients (16.4 percent) developed a recurrence an average of 36 months following successful treatment. Recurrence developed in 35.7 percent of patients treated with itraconazole and 11.9 percent treated with terbinafine. The use of antifungal amorolfine lacquer to prevent recurrence -- which has not been approved for use in the United States -- was not significantly related to relapse.

"The frequency of relapses was equal in patients with nail infection caused by Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton interdigitale. In all cases, the fungus responsible for the relapse was the same that caused the first infection. Our study showed an incidence of recurrence of foot onychomycosis caused by dermatophytes of 16.4 percent, in accordance with previously published data," the authors write.

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