Meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials comparing particular doses of griseofulvin and terbinafine for the treatment of tinea capitis

Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan-Feb;30(1):1-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01866.x. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Two oral antifungal agents, griseofulvin and terbinafine, have regulatory approval in the United States, but it is unknown whether one has superior overall efficacy. Genus-specific differences in efficacy are believed to exist for the two agents. It is not clear at what doses and durations of treatment these differences apply. The goals of this meta-analysis were to determine whether a statistically significant difference in efficacy exists between these agents at a given dose and duration of each in tinea capitis infections overall and to determine whether a genus-specific difference in efficacy exists for these two treatments at a given dose and duration of each. We performed a literature search for clinically and methodologically similar randomized controlled trials comparing 8 weeks of griseofulvin (6.25-12.5 mg/kg/day) to 4 weeks of terbinafine (3.125-6.25 mg/kg/day) in the treatment of tinea capitis. A meta-analysis was performed using the Mantel-Haenszel method and random effects model; results were expressed as odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials did not show a significant difference in the overall efficacy of the two drugs at the doses specified, but specific efficacy differences were observed based on the infectious species. For tinea capitis caused by Microsporum spp., griseofulvin is superior (p = 0.04), whereas terbinafine is superior for Trichophyton spp. infection (p = 0.04). Our results support species-specific differences in treatment efficacy between griseofulvin and terbinafine and provide a clinical context in which this knowledge may be applied.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Griseofulvin / administration & dosage*
  • Griseofulvin / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naphthalenes / administration & dosage*
  • Naphthalenes / adverse effects
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Terbinafine
  • Time Factors
  • Tinea Capitis / diagnosis
  • Tinea Capitis / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trichophyton / drug effects*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Naphthalenes
  • Griseofulvin
  • Terbinafine