Treating tinea capitis: Should ketoconazole replace griseofulvin?

Robert R Tanz*, Adelaide A. Hebert, Nancy Burton Esterly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


We undertook a randomized double-blind comparison of griseofulvin and ketoconazole for the treatment of tinea capitis. The outcome was based on fungal culture results and changes in clinical signs and symptoms determined by an assessment system that yielded a severity score. Patients were evaluated at 4-week intervals for 12 weeks. Seventy-nine patients were enrolled; 46 received griseofulvin, and 33 received ketoconazole. Forty-eight patients (26 griseofulvin, 22 ketoconazole) were considered evaluable. Pathogenic fungi were isolated from 78% of the enrolled and 87% of the evaluable patients. Trichophyton tonsurans was the predominant dermatophyte isolated. Potassium hydroxide preparation correlated poorly with culture results (sensitivity 59%). Of 22 evaluable ketoconazole patients, 16 (73%) were considered to have been treated successfully; 25 of 26 (96%) patients who received griseofulvin were successfully treated (chi-square=3.54, p<0.10). The proportion of culture-positive patients at each follow-up visit appeared somewhat greater for the ketoconazole-treated group than for the griseofulvin-treated group, but the differences were not statistically significant. Analysis of severity scores revealed no significant differences between the groups (t test and Mann-Whitney U test). No significant hepatotoxicity or other adverse reactions were observed. We conclude that griseofulvin should remain the drug of choice for treating tinea capitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-991
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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