Griseofulvin to Treat Ringworm in Kids

In an earlier article I wrote a brief summary about ringworm treatments, so you may want to read How to Treat Ringworm  first.

I wanted to do a write up about griseofulvin because it is the most used to treat ringworm in kids that need an oral treatment. 

Griseofulvin (Grifulvin) is the current prescription drug of choice.  Griseofulvin was first isolated  in 1938 and yet, over 70 years later, it continues to be first line of treatment.  Griseofulvin is available in microsize suspension and tablets (Grifulvin V) and ultramicrosize tablets (Gris-Peg).  It has been approved in children older than 2 years old.

Griseofulvin works by inhibiting fungal growth and helps protect new skin from being infected. This means it stops the fungal infection from progressing, allowing the infection to clear as the infected skin dies and sheds.  Because it does not kill the fungi, griseofulvin has a long length of therapy.  General ringworm of the body is usually treated for two to four weeks, whereas infections involving the head or feet can be treated for as long as four to 12 weeks.  Yes, that’s right, 2 to 3 months of  treatment.

Griseofulvin is typically given to children in the suspension form because it allows specific weight based dosing.  Both suspension and tablets are best absorbed when taken with a fatty meal.  Peanut butter or ice cream are recommended, which makes administering the medication a bit easier for parents J.  The ultramicrosize tablets may be crushed and mixed with 1 tablespoon of applesauce and taken right away without chewing.

Griseofulvin has a low incidence of serious side effects.  The most common adverse reaction is headache.  Also included are belly upset, oral thrush, sensitivity to sunlight and dizziness.  Rare but serious side effects include liver toxicity and decrease in white blood cells; these often disappear even with continuation of therapy.  Perhaps most interesting and pertinent is the estrogen-like effects that griseofulvin can cause in children.  Estrogen-like effects in children can include bloating, depression, headaches, thyroid interference and impaired blood sugar control- once again serious but rare.

Other antifungal medications used to treat ringworm are terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconzaole (Sporanox) and fluconazole (Diflucan).  These drugs appear to have similar efficacy as griseofulvin but with a shorter therapy cycle, typically four weeks.

It is imperative to treat ringworm in children.  If left untreated, bacterial infections and permanent hair loss can occur.  Griseofulvin remains the drug of choice for treatment of ringworm, however this is mostly based on old information.  Back in the day, griseofulvin was the only treatment option available in generic formulation and was therefore bumped to first in line due to price.  Nowadays, all of the medications have some dosage forms available in generic.  When discussing your child’s treatment plan with her physician, be sure to consider the length of treatment, dosage forms and price of the medications.

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My child and dog have both been on this medication for 2 weeks and have seen results. my child does complain of a headache.

tonight was the first dose of this medication for my 7 year old boy. this better work????!!!!! the ringworm is on the back of his head and I’m mortified at the fact that this may lead to permanent hair loss. please please let it work, I know it’s going to take a while, but I really have my fingers crossed here!

We have just been given the prescription for griseofulvin after trying to fight off this ringworm for 3 months on my 3yr old daughter. However we were told today this may be a ringworm or may be excema. We are going to be starting treatment tonight and I will keep you all posted on the progress.

My son is 2yrs old and he has been taken this treatment for a month now. He has a nice size bald spot and im hoping his hair goes back. I feel bad this happened to him. Yes I he is still using the treatment.

have used this drug to a 2 year old child and has realy worked,her head is now smomth and looks much healthy.

My 10 yr old has been on this for a month now, serious kerion developed and also got a staph infection as well, we saw significant improvement in the first week, and I was interested in the sun exposure precautions on the label. What kind of reactions does this med have with sun exposure?

Hi Mr. Youngs,

Griseofulvin can be a rough medication!! I am glad that your 10 year old is improving. The sun exposure precaution, meaning if he/she is exposed to sun while using this medication, he/she has a higher risk of getting a sun burn. He/she should avoid sun exposure and wear sunblock/hat/clothes to protect his skin if he is going to be outside for a bit.

I hope this helps!! Take care,

Nova Simpson, Pharm.D.

Hi my son is 4 years old and apparently there was a ringworm outbreak at his school and he has multiple areas of ringworm on his head, he went to the doc this am and has been started on this medication, are there any serious things that i have to look out for.

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