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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Oral antifungal medication for toenail onychomycosis

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2017
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (77th percentile)

Mentioned by

2 news outlets
36 tweeters
6 Facebook pages
4 Wikipedia pages


72 Dimensions

Readers on

308 Mendeley
Oral antifungal medication for toenail onychomycosis
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd010031.pub2
Pubmed ID

Sanne Kreijkamp-Kaspers, Kate Hawke, Linda Guo, George Kerin, Sally EM Bell-Syer, Parker Magin, Sophie V Bell-Syer, Mieke L van Driel


Fungal infection of the toenails, also called onychomycosis, is a common problem that causes damage to the nail's structure and physical appearance. For those severely affected, it can interfere with normal daily activities. Treatment is taken orally or applied topically; however, traditionally topical treatments have low success rates due to the nail's physical properties. Oral treatments also appear to have shorter treatment times and better cure rates. Our review will assist those needing to make an evidence-based choice for treatment. To assess the effects of oral antifungal treatments for toenail onychomycosis. We searched the following databases up to October 2016: the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and LILACS. We also searched five trials registers and checked the reference lists of included and excluded studies for further references to relevant randomised controlled trials (RCTs). We sought to identify unpublished and ongoing trials by correspondence with authors and by contacting relevant pharmaceutical companies. RCTs comparing oral antifungal treatment to placebo or another oral antifungal treatment in participants with toenail onychomycosis, confirmed by one or more positive cultures, direct microscopy of fungal elements, or histological examination of the nail. We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. We included 48 studies involving 10,200 participants. Half the studies took place in more than one centre and were conducted in outpatient dermatology settings. The participants mainly had subungual fungal infection of the toenails. Study duration ranged from 4 months to 2 years.We assessed one study as being at low risk of bias in all domains and 18 studies as being at high risk of bias in at least one domain. The most common high-risk domain was 'blinding of personnel and participants'.We found high-quality evidence that terbinafine is more effective than placebo for achieving clinical cure (risk ratio (RR) 6.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.96 to 9.08, 8 studies, 1006 participants) and mycological cure (RR 4.53, 95% CI 2.47 to 8.33, 8 studies, 1006 participants). Adverse events amongst terbinafine-treated participants included gastrointestinal symptoms, infections, and headache, but there was probably no significant difference in their risk between the groups (RR 1.13, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.47, 4 studies, 399 participants, moderate-quality evidence).There was high-quality evidence that azoles were more effective than placebo for achieving clinical cure (RR 22.18, 95% CI 12.63 to 38.95, 9 studies, 3440 participants) and mycological cure (RR 5.86, 95% CI 3.23 to 10.62, 9 studies, 3440 participants). There were slightly more adverse events in the azole group (the most common being headache, flu-like symptoms, and nausea), but the difference was probably not significant (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.12; 9 studies, 3441 participants, moderate-quality evidence).Terbinafine and azoles may lower the recurrence rate when compared, individually, to placebo (RR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.38, 1 study, 35 participants; RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.07, 1 study, 26 participants, respectively; both low-quality evidence).There is moderate-quality evidence that terbinafine was probably more effective than azoles for achieving clinical cure (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.95, 15 studies, 2168 participants) and mycological cure (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.88, 17 studies, 2544 participants). There was probably no difference in the risk of adverse events (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.17; 9 studies, 1762 participants, moderate-quality evidence) between the two groups, and there may be no difference in recurrence rate (RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.79, 5 studies, 282 participants, low-quality evidence). Common adverse events in both groups included headache, viral infection, and nausea.Moderate-quality evidence shows that azoles and griseofulvin probably had similar efficacy for achieving clinical cure (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.96, 5 studies, 222 participants) and mycological cure (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.50 to 1.51, 5 studies, 222 participants). However, the risk of adverse events was probably higher in the griseofulvin group (RR 2.41, 95% CI 1.56 to 3.73, 2 studies, 143 participants, moderate-quality evidence), with the most common being gastrointestinal disturbance and allergic reaction (in griseofulvin-treated participants) along with nausea and vomiting (in azole-treated participants). Very low-quality evidence means we are uncertain about this comparison's impact on recurrence rate (RR 4.00, 0.26 to 61.76, 1 study, 7 participants).There is low-quality evidence that terbinafine may be more effective than griseofulvin in terms of clinical cure (RR 0.32, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.72, 4 studies, 270 participants) and mycological cure (RR 0.64, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.90, 5 studies, 465 participants), and griseofulvin was associated with a higher risk of adverse events, although this was based on low-quality evidence (RR 2.09, 95% CI 1.15 to 3.82, 2 studies, 100 participants). Common adverse events included headache and stomach problems (in griseofulvin-treated participants) as well as taste loss and nausea (in terbinafine-treated participants). No studies addressed recurrence rate for this comparison.No study addressed quality of life. We found high-quality evidence that compared to placebo, terbinafine and azoles are effective treatments for the mycological and clinical cure of onychomycosis, with moderate-quality evidence of excess harm. However, terbinafine probably leads to better cure rates than azoles with the same risk of adverse events (moderate-quality evidence).Azole and griseofulvin were shown to probably have a similar effect on cure, but more adverse events appeared to occur with the latter (moderate-quality evidence). Terbinafine may improve cure and be associated with fewer adverse effects when compared to griseofulvin (low-quality evidence).Only four comparisons assessed recurrence rate: low-quality evidence found that terbinafine or azoles may lower the recurrence rate when compared to placebo, but there may be no difference between them.Only a limited number of studies reported adverse events, and the severity of the events was not taken into account.Overall, the quality of the evidence varied widely from high to very low depending on the outcome and comparison. The main reasons to downgrade evidence were limitations in study design, such as unclear allocation concealment and randomisation as well as lack of blinding.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 36 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 308 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 308 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 57 19%
Student > Bachelor 37 12%
Student > Ph. D. Student 24 8%
Student > Postgraduate 21 7%
Researcher 21 7%
Other 43 14%
Unknown 105 34%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 111 36%
Nursing and Health Professions 24 8%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 11 4%
Social Sciences 8 3%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 6 2%
Other 33 11%
Unknown 115 37%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 43. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 16 August 2022.
All research outputs
of 23,368,819 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,645 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 313,485 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 266 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 23,368,819 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,645 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 33.0. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 313,485 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 266 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 77% of its contemporaries.