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Nizoral Side Effects

Generic name: ketoconazole

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 21, 2024.

Note: This document contains side effect information about ketoconazole. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Nizoral.

Applies to ketoconazole: oral tablet.


Oral route (Tablet)

Ketoconazole tablets should only be used when other antifungal therapies are unavailable or not tolerated, and the potential benefits of treatment outweigh its risks. Serious hepatotoxicity, including cases with a fatal outcome or requiring liver transplantation has occurred with the use of oral ketoconazole, even in patients with no obvious risk factors for liver disease. Patients who receive this drug should be informed by the physician of the risk and should be closely monitored. Coadministration of ketoconazole with dofetilide, quinidine, pimozide, cisapride, methadone, disopyramide, dronedarone, and ranolazine is contraindicated, as ketoconazole can cause increased plasma concentrations of these drugs and may prolong QT intervals, sometimes resulting in life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmias such as torsades de pointes.

Serious side effects of Nizoral

Along with its needed effects, ketoconazole (the active ingredient contained in Nizoral) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking ketoconazole:


Other side effects of Nizoral

Some side effects of ketoconazole may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:


For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to ketoconazole: compounding powder, oral tablet.


Frequency not reported: Hepatitis, jaundice, abnormal hepatic function, hepatotoxicity, transient elevations of liver enzymes, severe hepatotoxicity (hepatocellular, cholestatic, or mixed)

Postmarketing reports: Serious hepatotoxicity including cholestatic hepatitis, biopsy-confirmed hepatic necrosis, cirrhosis, hepatic failure (including cases resulting in death or requiring liver transplantation)[Ref]

Ketoconazole therapy has commonly been associated with transient elevations in liver enzymes, which have resolved despite continued therapy.

Serious hepatotoxicity has been reported with both high doses for short durations and low doses for long therapy durations. Hepatic injury has usually (but not always) been reversible with discontinuation of ketoconazole therapy. Hepatitis has been reported in children.

Hepatotoxicity has been reported with oral ketoconazole rechallenge.

Severe hepatotoxicity (hepatocellular, cholestatic, or mixed) generally occurred after 1 or 2 months of therapy. Hepatic function usually returned to normal within 1 month, but cases of hepatic failure and death have occurred.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Orthostatic hypotension, QT interval prolongation (sometimes resulting in life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmias such as torsades de pointes)[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hypothyroidism

Frequency not reported: Inhibition of cortisol production (sometimes resulting in symptomatic adrenal insufficiency), adrenal crisis

Postmarketing reports: Adrenocortical insufficiency[Ref]

Ketoconazole inhibits hydroxylation of deoxycortisol, which results in diminished cortisol production, especially when given in divided doses. In some patients, symptomatic adrenal insufficiency may occur, presenting with hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, hypotension, lethargy, depression, and malaise.

A 77-year-old male with prostate cancer experienced adrenal crisis coincident with ketoconazole therapy. He presented with progressive right lower extremity weakness, debilitating low back pain, and a serum prostate-specific antigen level of 78.8 ng/mL. He was given ketoconazole 200 mg orally four times daily to reduce serum testosterone levels. Nine days after initiating ketoconazole therapy, he experienced generalized weakness, abdominal pain, nausea with vomiting, and severely diminished mentation. The urology service was advised of the patient's admission and suggested that adrenal insufficiency related to high-dose ketoconazole therapy should be considered in the differential diagnosis. However, a serum cortisol level was not obtained prior to steroid treatment. An ACTH stimulation test performed 2 days later showed no evidence of underlying adrenal insufficiency when the patient was no longer being given ketoconazole.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Erythema multiforme, rash, dermatitis, erythema, urticaria, pruritus, alopecia, xeroderma, dry skin, bruising, loss of scalp hair, worsening loss of scalp hair, desquamation

Postmarketing reports: Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, photosensitivity[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Gastrointestinal complaints (including nausea, vomiting)

Frequency not reported: Diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, upper abdominal pain, dry mouth, dysgeusia, dyspepsia, flatulence, tongue discoloration, stomatitis[Ref]

Gastrointestinal intolerance may resolve with continued therapy and may improve if ketoconazole is taken with food.[Ref]


A 23-year-old female with vaginal discharge experienced fatal aplastic anemia coincident with ketoconazole (the active ingredient contained in Nizoral) therapy. She was admitted with widespread purpuric lesions on her face, arms, and legs. She had taken ketoconazole 200 mg twice daily for vaginal discharge for 4 days before admission. Ketoconazole was discontinued on admission. The patient was diagnosed with aplastic anemia based on clinical findings. The patient did not respond to therapy and died of disseminated candidiasis 2 months later.[Ref]

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hemolytic anemia

Frequency not reported: Platelet count decreased, fatal aplastic anemia

Postmarketing reports: Thrombocytopenia[Ref]


A 72-year-old female with a Candida albicans infection experienced a severe reaction of refractory anaphylactic shock coincident with ketoconazole (the active ingredient contained in Nizoral) therapy. She was initially given oral ketoconazole 200 mg twice daily. She developed hypotension over the first 2 days of treatment (BP 136/82 mmHg at baseline; 90/50 mmHg on day 2). Severe hypotension (BP 90/49 mmHg) unresponsive to fluid therapy or high-dose dopamine developed on day 4 of treatment. When laboratory tests revealed a high level of plasma tryptase, anaphylactic redistribution shock was diagnosed. Her vital signs became more stable after therapy with hydrocortisone and epinephrine infusion.[Ref]

Frequency not reported: Anaphylactoid reaction, hypersensitivity reactions (including urticaria), anaphylaxis (sometimes after first dose), cross-sensitivity between imidazoles, drug hypersensitivity (presenting as rash, erythema, pruritus)

Postmarketing reports: Allergic conditions including anaphylactic shock, anaphylactic reaction, angioneurotic edema[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Menstrual disorder, serum testosterone decreased, gynecomastia (in males), breast tenderness (in males), oligospermia, polymenorrhea anovulatory cycles, anovulatory oligomenorrhea

Postmarketing reports: Erectile dysfunction, azoospermia (with doses higher than recommended dose of 200 to 400 mg per day)[Ref]

Gynecomastia and breast tenderness have been reported in male patients. Gynecomastia in males resulted from decreased steroidogenesis and testosterone production, which led to an increased estrogen to testosterone ratio.[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hypoglycemia

Frequency not reported: Alcohol intolerance, anorexia, hyperlipidemia, increased appetite, transient fall in serum cholesterol with an increase in triglycerides[Ref]

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Headache, somnolence, dizziness, paresthesia

Postmarketing reports: Reversible increased intracranial pressure (e.g., papilledema, fontanel bulging in infants)[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Fatigue, asthenia, hot flush, malaise, peripheral edema, pyrexia, chills[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Myalgia

Postmarketing reports: Arthralgia[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Confusion, suicidal tendencies

Frequency not reported: Insomnia, nervousness, paranoid delusions[Ref]

Paranoid delusions have been reported in a patient treated with ketoconazole for cutaneous leishmaniasis.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Photophobia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Epistaxis[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


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25. van Ketel WG (1983) "An allergic eruption probably caused by ketaconazole." Contact Dermatitis, 9, p. 313

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35. Hanash KA (1989) "Neurologic complications of ketoconazole therapy for advanced prostatic cancer." Urology, 33, p. 466-7

36. Finkelstein E, Amichai B, Halevy S (1996) "Paranoid delusions caused by ketoconazole." Int J Dermatol, 35, p. 75

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.