Lamisil (Terbinafine) - Topical

What Is Lamisil?

Lamisil (terbinafine) is an over-the-counter (OTC) topical drug used to treat fungal skin infections such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm. Lamisil also relieves associated symptoms, such as itching, burning, cracking, and scaling skin.

Lamisil can also treat a fungal infection called pityriasis. Pityriasis causes the skin on the neck, chest, arms, or legs to become lighter or darker.

Lamisil works by preventing the growth of fungus. It is in a drug class known as antifungals.

Lamisil contains the ingredient terbinafine and is available as a topical cream and spray. It is also available orally by prescription as a tablet. However, this article will focus on the OTC topical Lamisil.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Terbinafine

Brand Name(s): Lamisil, Lamisil AT

Drug Availability: Over-the-counter (OTC)

Administration Route: Topical

Therapeutic Classification: Antifungal

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Terbinafine

Dosage Form(s): Gel/jelly, cream, spray

What Is Lamisil Used For?

Lamisil can be used to treat various fungal infections, such as:

How to Use Lamisil

Before using Lamisil, here are a few general tips for using the medication safely:

  • Use Lamisil on the skin only; topical terbinafine is not for internal use.
  • Keep the medicine out of your eyes, nose, mouth, and vagina.
  • Do not use Lamisil more often or for longer than directed.
  • Use the cream for the entire length of treatment, even if your infection looks better. Stopping Lamisil too soon may cause the infection to return.

Always follow directions provided by your healthcare provider or on the packaging. The following are general instructions for applying this medicine:

  • Before applying Lamisil, clean and dry the affected area.
  • Apply a thin layer of Lamisil on and around the affected area.
  • Wash your hands after using Lamisil unless you are treating the hands.
  • Do not wrap or cover the affected area unless your healthcare provider tells you to.

Your condition may continue to improve after you finish the treatment. However, tell your healthcare provider if your condition gets worse or does not improve in two weeks (jock itch, ringworm) or four weeks (athlete’s foot).

Storage

Lamisil should be stored at room temperature (68 F to 77 Fahrenheit), away from heat, direct light, and moisture. Keep Lamisil out of the reach of children and pets.

How Long Does Lamisil Take to Work?

Follow the dosing instructions on the label. Symptoms may start to improve within a few days, but it is important to finish the full course of treatment, which is generally one or two weeks.

What Are the Side Effects of Lamisil?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of Lamisil are local reactions that occur where the cream is applied, including:

  • Burning
  • Dryness 
  • Irritation 
  • Itching
  • Rash 
  • Tingling

Severe Side Effects

Serious or long-term side effects have not been reported from topical Lamisil.

However, contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have skin reactions that become severe or develop an allergic reaction to the cream.

Report Side Effects

Lamisil may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Lamisil Should I Use?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For topical dosage form (cream):
    • For cutaneous candidiasis:
      • Adults—Use one or two times a day for seven to fourteen days.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For tinea corporis or tinea cruris:
      • Adults and children 12 years of age and older—Use one or two times a day for seven to twenty-eight days.
      • Infants and children younger than 12 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For tinea pedis (interdigital):
      • Adults and children 12 years of age and older—Use two times a day for seven to twenty-eight days.
      • Infants and children younger than 12 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For tinea pedis (plantar):
      • Adults and children 12 years of age and older—Use two times a day for fourteen days.
      • Infants and children younger than 12 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For tinea versicolor:
      • Adults—Use one or two times a day for fourteen days.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For topical dosage form (spray solution):
    • For tinea corporis or tinea cruris:
      • Adults—Use once a day for seven days.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For tinea pedis or tinea versicolor:
      • Adults—Use two times a day for seven days.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

To help clear up your infection completely, it is very important that you keep using terbinafine for the full time of treatment , even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. Since fungus infections may be very slow to clear up, you may have to continue using this medicine every day for several weeks or more. If you stop using this medicine too soon, your symptoms may return. Do not miss any doses .

Modifications

Certain factors may affect how you use terbinafine, such as:

  • Age: Topical terbinafine is only intended for use in children above the age of 12. For younger children, contact their pediatrician for further advice.
  • Pregnancy: Topical terbinafine is generally safe to use while pregnant. Still, it's best to contact your obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) provider before starting any new medications during your pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding: Talk to a healthcare provider before using topical terbinafine while nursing. Although generally safe, it is recommended to be cautious around the nipple area and ensure the infant does not come into direct contact with treated parts of the skin.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Lamisil, apply it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not double up on how much you apply at once.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Lamisil?

Since Lamisil is applied topically, using too much Lamisil would not cause serious problems. Topical irritation may occur.

What Happens If I Overdose on Lamisil?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Lamisil, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after using Lamisil, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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Discontinue using this medicine and check with your doctor if increased irritation or possible sensitization (redness, itching, burning, blistering, swelling, or oozing) occurs while using the medication.

If your skin problem does not improve within 4 to 7 weeks, or if it becomes worse, check with your doctor.

To help clear up your infection completely and to help make sure it does not return, good health habits are also needed. The following measures will help reduce chafing and irritation and will also help keep the area cool and dry.

  • For patients using terbinafine for ringworm of the body:
    • Carefully dry yourself after bathing.
    • Avoid too much heat and humidity if possible. Try to keep moisture from building up on affected areas of the body.
    • Wear well-ventilated, loose-fitting clothing.
    • Use a bland, absorbent powder (for example, talcum powder) once or twice a day. Be sure to use the powder after terbinafine cream or solution has been applied and has disappeared into the skin.
  • For patients using terbinafine for ringworm of the groin:
    • Avoid wearing underwear that is tight-fitting or made from synthetic (man-made) materials (for example, rayon or nylon). Instead, wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear.
    • Use a bland, absorbent powder (for example, talcum powder) on the skin. It is best to use the powder between the times you use terbinafine.
  • For patients using terbinafine for ringworm of the foot:
    • Carefully dry the feet, especially between the toes, after bathing.
    • Avoid wearing socks made from wool or synthetic materials (for example, rayon or nylon). Instead, wear clean, cotton socks and change them daily or more often if the feet sweat a lot.
    • Wear sandals or well-ventilated shoes (for example, shoes with holes).
    • Use a bland, absorbent powder (for example, talcum powder) between the toes, on the feet, and in socks and shoes once or twice a day. It is best to use the powder between the times you use terbinafine.

If you have any questions about these measures, check with your health care professional.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Use Lamisil?

Lamisil is not appropriate for everyone. You should not use topical Lamisil if you are allergic to terbinafine or any of the inactive ingredients.

What Other Medications Interact With Lamisil?

There are no significant drug interactions with topical Lamisil.

Still, before using topical Lamisil, tell your healthcare provider or pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription and OTC medicines, and vitamins or supplements.

What Medications Are Similar?

Other topical antifungals that are available OTC to treat conditions such as ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot, include:

Topical antifungals only available by prescription include:

  • Loprox (ciclopirox)
  • Naftifine
  • Ketoconazole
  • Ecoza (econazole)

Topical prescription antifungals combined with a topical steroid include:

  • Lotrisone (clotrimazole and betamethasone)
  • Mycolog II (nystatin and triamcinolone)

Oral antifungals are also available with a prescription. These include:

  • Diflucan (fluconazole)
  • Lamisil (terbinafine)
  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)
  • Noxafil (posaconazole)

This is a list of drugs also used to treat fungal conditions. It is NOT a list of drugs recommended to take with Lamisil. Talk to a pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Lamisil used for?

    Lamisil is an OTC topical drug that can treat fungal skin infections such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm. Lamisil also helps improve associated symptoms such as itching, burning, cracking, and scaling skin.

  • How does Lamisil work?

    Lamisil is an antifungal drug that helps prevent the growth of fungus.

  • How long does it take for Lamisil to work?

    Symptoms may begin to improve in a few days, but it is important to finish the entire course of treatment, which is usually one or two weeks.

  • What are the side effects of Lamisil?

    The most common side effects of topical Lamisil are local effects where the medication is applied, such as burning, itching, irritation, and tingling of the skin.

  • How do I stop taking Lamisil?

    Take Lamisil for the full course of treatment as stated on the label or as instructed by your healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or if your fungal infection is not improving or is worsening.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Using Lamisil?

If you have a fungal infection, use your prescribed medication as directed for the length of time prescribed.

Additionally, you can take certain actions to help prevent fungal infections and their spread.

To prevent athlete's foot:

  • Keep nails clean, and cut short.
  • Do not walk barefoot in locker rooms or shared shower areas.

If you already have athlete's foot:

  • Keep your feet clean, dry, and cool.
  • Avoid pools and shared showers. 
  • Wear sandals and avoid closed shoes if possible. If not possible, alternate shoes every few days.
  • Wear socks made of a fabric that dries easily.

To help prevent ringworm:

  • Keep skin clean and dry. 
  • Wear shoes that allow air to circulate around the feet. 
  • Do not walk barefoot in locker rooms or public showers.
  • Keep your fingernails and toenails short and clean.
  • Change socks and underwear at least once daily.
  • Do not share personal items, towels, or sheets with someone who has ringworm.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after playing with pets. 
  • If you participate in close contact sports, shower right after your activity, keep your gear clean, and do not share gear.

To help prevent jock itch:

  • After you exercise, shower and dry well. Keep your groin, inner thighs, and buttocks clean and dry. 
  • Wash workout clothes, socks, underwear, and towels after every use.
  • Wear shower shoes in public showers and locker rooms. 
  • If you have athlete’s foot, treat it. While treating athlete’s foot, put your socks on before your underwear, to prevent the fungus from spreading to the groin. 
  • If you get athlete’s foot, dry the feet last after bathing. This helps prevent spreading the infection to the groin.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. Bakos L, Brito AC, Castro LC, et al. Open clinical study of the efficacy and safety of terbinafine cream 1% in children with tinea corporis and tinea cruris. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1997;16(6):545-548. doi:10.1097/00006454-199706000-00002

  5. DailyMed. Lamisil AT- terbinafine hydrochloride aerosol, spray.

  6. Andersson NW, Thomsen SF, Andersen JT. Evaluation of association between oral and topical terbinafine use in pregnancy and risk of major malformations and spontaneous abortion. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(4):375-383. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.0142

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By Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD, is a community pharmacist and medical writer/reviewer.