What is Griseofulvin?

D. Jeffress

Griseofulvin is a prescription oral drug that can be used to treat a number of different fungal infections. It is commonly given to patients who have manifestations of ringworm that infect the feet, groin area, nails, scalp, or other areas of the skin. Depending on the specific type of fungus and the site of infection, a person may need to take griseofulvin for up to six months to ensure the fungus is entirely eradicated. There are very few risks of side effects with the drug, and the majority of patients fully recover after a course of treatment.

Griseofulvin can treat athlete's foot.
Griseofulvin can treat athlete's foot.

Antifungal drugs such as griseofulvin work by binding to a protein called tubulin that is made by fungal cells. Fungi rely on tubulin to start the chemical processes that lead to cell division and reproduction. Griseofulvin prevents cell mitosis, thereby stopping the spread of an infection. Fungal cells that are unable to divide eventually expire.

Toenail infections can be treated using griseofulvin.
Toenail infections can be treated using griseofulvin.

Ringworm species that are susceptible to griseofulvin include those responsible for athlete's foot, jock itch, finger and toenail infections, and the classic ring-shaped lesions that appear on bare skin and the scalp. The medication comes in tablet, suspended liquid, and delayed-release capsule forms. Most patients over the age of 12 are instructed to take 375 milligrams of the drug in one or more doses daily, for a period of two weeks to six months. A doctor can determine the appropriate dosage amount, time of treatment, and form of delivery based on the patient's overall health and his or her specific condition.

Major side effects are rare when taking griseofulvin. It is possible to experience stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in the first few days of treatment. Some patients also develop mild headaches, dizzy spells, fatigue, and dry mouth. Occasionally, the drug can induce more serious side effects such as fever, sore throat, and joint pain. An allergic reaction can result in widespread skin hives and swelling in the mouth and throat. It is important to report side effects and adverse reactions to a doctor so they can be treated appropriately.

In addition to taking griseofulvin, patients are usually given helpful tips on how to speed up recovery time and avoid spreading their infections to other people. Proper hygiene is essential, and patients should take care to bathe regularly and wash their hands immediately after touching infected parts of their bodies. Individuals should also avoid sharing towels, razors, and other personal hygiene items with household members.

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