DermNet NZ

Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Griseofulvin has been available since 1958 to treat ringworm (tinea). It is not effective against yeasts such as candida or malassezia.

Griseofulvin has been withdrawn from the market in New Zealand (2002) and other countries, as it has been superceded by more effective and safer antifungal drugs.

Griseofulvin comes from the mould, Penicillium griseofulvum. It stops fungal cells dividing (i.e. it is fungistatic) but does not kill them outright. This means treatment needs to be continued for several weeks or months. For many fungal infections, especially of the nail (tinea unguium), newer drugs work better than griseofulvin.

Griseofulvin may still be preferable for tinea capitis, especially when due to Microsporum canis infection, and is generally well tolerated in children.

Griseofulvin tablets are not very well absorbed from the gut. They should be taken after a meal or drink of milk as fat increases the absorption. The medication is carried into the skin by sweat and within a couple of weeks is concentrated in the outer skin layers.

Half the medication is cleared from the blood stream in 10 to 20 hours; the rest is eliminated in urine and faeces. This means the medication can be taken once daily. Griseofulvin should be continued until the fungal infection has completely gone because the medication is quickly cleared from skin and hair when it is stopped.

Dose regime

Adults: 500 mg to 1 g daily.

Children: 10: 25 mg per kg body weight per day.

Tinea pedis, Tinea cruris, tinea manuum, tinea corporis etc. for 2: 6 weeks.

Tinea capitis for at least 6: 8 weeks (longer for M canis).

Tinea unguium for 12: 18 months until all signs of nail infection have gone.

Side effects

Minor side effects are quite common and include:

Griseofulvin should not be taken in pregnancy as there is a slight risk of malformation of the fetus. Males should not father children within 6 months of treatment with griseofulvin as it may damage sperm cells.

Drug interactions

Griseofulvin can interact with other medications.

Antacids and H2 antagonists should not be taken for 2 hours after griseofulvin because they might otherwise stop its absorption.

Griseofulvin interacts with alcohol rather like disulfiram (Antabuse) and can cause severe nausea and vomiting.

Griseofulvin can cause an increase in a liver enzyme reducing the concentration of:

Related information

On DermNet NZ:

Other websites:


See the DermNet NZ bookstore


The New Zealand approved datasheet is the official source of information for this prescription medicine, including approved uses and risk information. Check the New Zealand datasheet on the Medsafe website.

DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service.
If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.