Ciclopirox comes as a cream or lotion (Loprox) or lacquer
(Penlac). The cream or lotion is applied to the skin or nail twice a day for 2
weeks. The lacquer (nail polish) is applied to the nail once a day for up to 6
Terbinafine cream or gel is applied to the skin and nail.
To kill a fungal skin infection, terbinafine is applied twice a day for at
least 2 weeks, or once a day for 2 to 4 weeks. To control a fungal nail
infection, longer-term use is needed.
The other medicines are
available as creams, lotions, solutions, or sprays and are applied directly to
the nail and surrounding skin once or twice a day for 3 to 12 months.
How It Works
Topical antifungal medicines prevent the
growth of or kill
Why It Is Used
Topical antifungal medicines are
used to treat
fungal nail infections. Often, the medicine that is
used depends on the
type of infection you have.
- Terbinafine may be used to treat fungal nail infections caused by
dermatophytes, such as distal subungual onychomycosis and white superficial
Ketoconazole, oxiconazole, and econazole are used
to treat fungal nail infections caused by dermatophytes and yeasts, such as
Clotrimazole is used to treat dermatophytes and molds.
- Ciclopirox is used to treat fungal infection on the nail surface
(white superficial onychomycosis).
Topical medicines are also used to prevent reinfection, to
athlete's foot from causing a fungal nail infection,
and after removal of a nail.
How Well It Works
Topical medicines may be used to
treat fungal nail infections. But they do not work as well as oral medicines
in curing fungal nail infections.
- One review of research reports that ciclopirox killed fungi in
about 30% of people who used it.2
- Using a topical antifungal around the toes after an infection is
cured may prevent reinfection.1
These medicines may be used when there are concerns about
the risks of oral antifungal medicine.
Topical antifungals rarely cause side
effects. Stop using the medicine if it results in severe blistering, itching,
redness, dryness, or irritation.
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It is not known whether these
medicines harm a
fetus or pass into breast milk. Ciclopirox is not
expected to harm a fetus. If you are pregnant, could become pregnant, or are
breast-feeding, talk to your doctor before using any of these medicines.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Habif TP (2010). Fungal nail infections section of Nail diseases. In Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 956-961. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Ferrari J (2008). Fungal toenail infections,
search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: