Objectives. Terbinafine has been shown to be effective in tinea capitis, using different treatment durations. However, no direct comparison of treatment duration has previously been investigated. This randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, multicenter study was designed to assess the effect of terbinafine treatment duration on the outcome of Trichophyton tinea capitis in a North American population.

Methods. A total of 176 patients with a clinical diagnosis of tinea capitis were enrolled in this study and treated with oral terbinafine (3–6 mg/kg/d) for 1, 2, or 4 weeks. All patients were to be followed until week 12. A total of 159 patients had culture-confirmed tinea capitis attributable to Trichophyton species and constituted the intent-to-treat population used for efficacy analysis (50, 55, and 54 patients in the 1-, 2-, and 4-week arms, respectively).

Results. At the end of study, effective treatment, defined as negative culture and low scores on signs and symptoms, was achieved in 56%, 69%, and 65% of patients who were treated with terbinafine for 1, 2, and 4 weeks, respectively. A negative culture was achieved in 60%, 76%, and 72%, respectively. Overall, the efficacy data showed that both the 2- and 4-week treatment regimens are clinically superior to the 1-week regimen. Terbinafine was well tolerated, and the incidence of adverse events showed no relationship to the duration of therapy.

Conclusion. When efficacy, cost, and compliance are taken into consideration, 2 weeks of terbinafine therapy appears to be the optimal treatment duration for patients with Trichophyton tonsurans tinea capitis.

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