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Terbinex Side Effects

Generic Name: terbinafine

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug terbinafine. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Terbinex.

For the Consumer

Applies to terbinafine: oral packet, oral tablet

As well as its needed effects, terbinafine (the active ingredient contained in Terbinex) may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

If any of the following side effects occur while taking terbinafine, check with your doctor immediately:

More common:
  • Fever
Less common:
  • Body aches or pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with breathing
  • ear congestion
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of voice
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • shivering
  • skin rash or itching
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • trouble with sleeping
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • upper abdominal or stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • pale skin
  • pale stools
  • redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • stomach pain
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • yellow skin or eyes
Incidence not known:
  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • bloating
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • chest pain
  • constipation
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling of discomfort
  • flu-like symptoms
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • hair loss
  • high fever
  • hives
  • indigestion
  • inflammation of the joints
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • light-colored stools
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle aches
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
  • persistent loss of appetite
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • red, scaling, or crusted skin
  • shortness of breath or troubled breathing
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • sores, welting, or blisters
  • stomach pain, continuing
  • swollen glands
  • swollen lymph glands
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
  • unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • wheezing

Minor Side Effects

Some terbinafine side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Stomach pain (mild)
  • stuffy nose
Less common:
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • belching
  • change of taste or loss of taste
  • heartburn
  • toothache
Incidence not known:
  • Decreased vision
  • difficulty with moving
  • discouragement
  • feeling sad or empty
  • irritability
  • lack of appetite
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • loss of sense of smell
  • muscle cramps or spasms
  • muscle stiffness
  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to terbinafine: oral granule, oral tablet


In general, terbinafine (the active ingredient contained in Terbinex) side effects have been mild and transient. However, the drug has been associated with serious life threatening events such as hepatic failure, anaphylaxis, and severe neutropenia.[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (12.9%)
Frequency not reported: Dizziness, insomnia
Postmarketing reports: Taste disturbance (including taste loss; some cases severe enough to cause decreased food intake, weight loss, anxiety, depressive symptoms), smell disturbance (including loss of smell), paresthesia, hypoesthesia, tinnitus, hearing impairment, vertigo[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea (5.6%), dyspepsia (4.3%), taste disturbance (2.8%), nausea (2.6%), abdominal pain (2.4%), flatulence (2.2%)
Rare (less than 0.1%): Severe sialadenitis (at least 1 case)
Frequency not reported: Mild to moderate gastrointestinal discomfort, gastritis, gastric fullness, nausea and vomiting, taste alteration (rarely accompanied by discoloration of the tongue and/or disturbance in the sense of smell), hypogeusia, ageusia, metallic taste
Postmarketing reports: Vomiting, pancreatitis[Ref]

Patients with hiatal hernia or gastric duodenal ulcer disease may be more likely to experience mild to moderate gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea and vomiting, gastritis, gastric fullness, and flatulence.

Taste disturbances were typically noticed 5 to 8 weeks after starting therapy and returned to normal 2 to 5 weeks after stopping the medication. The taste alteration has been rarely accompanied by a discoloration of the tongue and/or a disturbance in the sense of smell.

An 80-year-old female experienced a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) secondary to severe sialadenitis coincident with terbinafine therapy. The patient was admitted with a generalized pruriginous eruption. She presented with erythematous and edematous widespread confluent plaques, with a scaly annular border. She had initiated terbinafine therapy 14 days before onset of the generalized rash, for a nonspecific squamous plaque of the trunk. DRESS induced by terbinafine was diagnosed and terbinafine intake was discontinued. Topical therapy was started with 0.5% clobetasol propionate cream applied to the whole body. The rash progressively improved and blood eosinophilia decreased.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Rash (5.6%), pruritus (2.8%), urticaria (1.1%)
Rare (less than 0.1%): Reversible alopecia areata of the scalp, pustular psoriasis, acrodermatitis continua of Hallopeau (at least 1 case)
Frequency not reported: Erythema multiforme
Postmarketing reports: Serious skin reactions (e.g., Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, exfoliative dermatitis, bullous dermatitis, drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms [DRESS] syndrome), psoriasiform eruptions or exacerbation of psoriasis, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, hair loss, photosensitivity reactions, precipitation and exacerbation of cutaneous and systemic lupus erythematosus[Ref]

An 81-year-old male who had been treated with topical antifungal agents for tinea pedis started oral terbinafine 125 mg daily as the lesions did not respond to topical therapy. He was not taking any other medications and had no history of skin disease. No other skin lesions were observed at that time. Two weeks later, he developed erythematous and pustular lesions on his fingers and toes, and an erythematous macular eruption on the limbs. Oral terbinafine therapy was discontinued, but the eruptions continued to worsen. Histopathology of a punch biopsy from his toe showed intraepidermal sterile pustules containing neutrophils, so-called Kogoj's spongiform pustules. He was then diagnosed with having acrodermatitis continua of Hallopeau and was treated with corticosteroids therapy.

A 68-year-old male experienced acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis coincident with terbinafine therapy. He presented with a symmetrical maculopapular eruption on both lower anterior legs. Within two days, the rash generalized with facial involvement. He developed the rash 20 days after initiating oral terbinafine for onychomycosis. After withdrawal of terbinafine, the exanthema abated within 10 days under topical therapy with corticosteroids.[Ref]


A 57-year-old male with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection developed terbinafine-induced acute autoimmune hepatitis coincident with terbinafine (the active ingredient contained in Terbinex) therapy. He was given 250 mg of terbinafine once daily over a 12-week period for dermatophyte toenail onychomycosis. He developed the adverse event just prior to completing the course of therapy. He was not taking any other drugs or herbal supplements, did not drink alcohol, and did not appear to suffer a flare of HBV infection. Liver function studies began to normalize 6 weeks after terbinafine was discontinued.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Liver enzyme abnormalities (2 times ULN or greater; 3.3%)
Rare (less than 0.1%): Terbinafine-induced autoimmune hepatitis (at least 1 case)
Frequency not reported: Transient elevations in serum liver enzymes, development of idiosyncratic and symptomatic hepatobiliary dysfunction
Postmarketing reports: Idiosyncratic and symptomatic hepatic injury, cases of liver failure (some leading to death or liver transplantation), hepatitis, cholestasis, increased hepatic enzymes[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Leukopenia, lymphopenia
Postmarketing reports: Pancytopenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia, agranulocytosis, severe neutropenia, altered prothrombin time (prolonged and reduced) with concomitant warfarin[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Visual disturbance (1.1%)
Frequency not reported: Changes in ocular lens and retina, dyschromatopsia, photopsia
Postmarketing reports: Reduced visual acuity, visual field defect[Ref]

Changes in the ocular lens and retina have been reported; however, the clinical significance is unknown.

Dyschromatopsia, whereby the patient reported a greenish hue in her vision, and photopsia have occurred in a patient after 3 weeks of therapy. This problem resolved within 1 week of discontinuing the drug.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Hypoglycemia, hypotriglyceridemia[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Renal function test impairment[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hematuria, transient erectile dysfunction in male patients (extremely rare)[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity reactions
Postmarketing reports: Serious hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., angioedema, allergic reactions [including anaphylaxis]), serum sickness-like reaction[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Arthralgia, myalgia, rhabdomyolysis, increased blood creatine phosphokinase[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Vasculitis


Postmarketing reports: Malaise, fatigue, influenza-like illness, pyrexia


Postmarketing reports: Anxiety (independent of taste disturbance), depressive symptoms (independent of taste disturbance)


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It is possible that some side effects of Terbinex may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.