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Cutis. 2001 Jul;68(1 Suppl):6-14.

Role of oral antifungal agents for the treatment of superficial fungal infections in immunocompromised patients.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Abstract

Superficial fungal infections or tinea infections (also known as the dermatophytoses) are commonly encountered conditions in clinical practice, affecting the skin, hair, and nails. The most commonly prescribed modality to treat these infections is topical antifungal therapy. However, this method of treating tinea infections may be less convenient and efficacious in the immunocompromised patient. In such patients, skin infections are more difficult to treat because the disease is often more extensive and severe. Tinea infections of the hair and nails usually require oral therapy. Further, topical treatment is not as efficacious as oral antifungal therapy and, with the exception of the topical antifungal agent ciclopirox, is not indicated for the treatment of tinea unguium (onychomycosis). The 2 most frequently prescribed oral antifungal agents to treat onychomycosis are itraconazole and terbinafine. In the general population, both agents are effective in treating fungal nail infections; however, differences in the agents' mechanism of action and metabolic pathways result in differences in efficacy and drug-drug interaction potential. However, limited data exist on the use of these agents in immunocompromised patients for the treatment of onychomycosis and superficial tinea infections. The available efficacy data we have are limited to case reports or small pilot studies; thus, data supporting the efficacy of these agents for the treatment of tinea infections in the immunocompromised patient must be extrapolated from the general population. For safety issues, however, some postmarketing data exist supporting the safety of these agents in the diabetic and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients populations; indeed, both agents appear to be safe. However, one contrasting point between these 2 agents is drug interactions. Oral terbinafine, unlike itraconazole (a potent cytochrome P-450 [CYP] 3A4 inhibitor), has a relatively low potential for drug-drug interactions, making terbinafine a useful agent for the treatment of tinea infections in immunocompromised patients (e.g., those who are HIV positive and those with diabetes), who are likely to be receiving concomitant medications. Further, recently conducted studies of terbinafine for the treatment of tinea pedis, tinea cruris, and tinea corporis infections in these high-risk patient groups also support efficacy claims and reemphasize its relatively safe profile and low potential for drug interactions. Additional studies in other immunocompromised patient populations may be useful to confirm recent studies and expand the potential use for this agent.

PMID:
11499333
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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