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Ciclopirox is an antifungal medication approved by the FDA to treat various fungal infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and seborrheic dermatitis. It comes in different forms, including creams, shampoos, and nail lacquers, with concentrations ranging from 0.77% to 8%. Ciclopirox works by inhibiting the growth of fungi, effectively reducing and eliminating the infection. It’s suitable for adults and children over 12 years, depending on the formulation. Common side effects include skin irritation and allergic reactions. Always use Ciclopirox as prescribed and consult a healthcare provider before starting treatment. Store it at room temperature and keep it out of reach of children.

Product Overview

Ciclopirox is a versatile antifungal medication primarily used to treat a variety of fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, tinea versicolor, and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. Available in forms such as creams, shampoos, and nail lacquers, Ciclopirox targets fungal infections by inhibiting the growth of fungi. It achieves this by disrupting the synthesis of essential components like DNA, RNA, and proteins within the fungal cells. This action prevents the fungi from thriving and directly kills the fungal cells. The FDA has approved Ciclopirox for treating these conditions, making it a trusted choice for managing and alleviating symptoms associated with fungal infections.

Ciclopirox has various strengths tailored to its different formulations: 0.77% for creams, lotions, and gels, 1% for shampoos, and 8% for nail lacquer. After cleaning and drying, the cream, gel, or ointment should be applied twice daily to the affected area. The shampoo is used twice weekly, and the nail lacquer is applied daily, preferably at bedtime. Depending on the product form, Ciclopirox is suitable for adults and children over 12 years.

While generally safe, Ciclopirox can cause side effects such as skin irritation, allergic reactions, or dry skin. Severe reactions like blistering or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention. It’s essential to use the medication as prescribed and not miss doses. If a dose is missed, it should be applied as soon as remembered unless it is near the time for the next dose. For overdose, seek medical help immediately. Store Ciclopirox at room temperature, away from moisture and heat, and ensure it is kept out of reach of children. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting treatment with Ciclopirox to ensure it is the appropriate medication for your condition.

Uses of Ciclopirox

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Jock itch
  • Ringworm
  • Tinea versicolor (a fungal infection causing discolored skin patches)
  • Yeast infections of the skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp (available in shampoo and gel forms)
  • Fungal nail infection (treated with nail lacquer only)

How to Use Ciclopirox?


This medication comes in the following strengths and forms: 

  • Cream/Lotion/Gel: 0.77%
  • Shampoo: 1%
  • Nail Lacquer: 8%

Recommended Dosage for Different Patients

Ciclopirox Cream, Gel, or Lotion

  • Adults and Children 12 Years and Older: Apply a thin layer to the affected area twice daily (morning and evening) or as directed by a physician. The duration of treatment depends on the type and severity of the infection but typically ranges from 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Children Under 12 Years: Some formulations have not been established to be safe and effective in pediatric patients under 12.

Ciclopirox Nail Lacquer

  • Adults and the Elderly: Apply to the affected nail(s) once daily, preferably at bedtime or eight hours before washing. Use should continue weekly until clear and healthy nails have regrown.
  • Children: The safety and effectiveness of ciclopirox nail lacquer in children have not been established, and therefore, its use is not generally recommended for this age group.

Ciclopirox Shampoo

  • Adults and Children 12 Years and Older: Apply approximately one teaspoon (5 mL) or up to 2 teaspoons (10 mL) for long hair to the scalp area twice weekly with at least 3 days between applications.
  • Children Under 12 Years: Safety and effectiveness in children under the age of 12 have not been established.

[Note: Remember these recommendations may vary depending on person to person. Discuss it with your doctor, and they’ll customize your dosage accordingly.]

How to Take It?

Ciclopirox Cream, Gel, or Lotion

  • Clean and Dry: Before applying, clean and thoroughly dry the affected area.
  • Apply a Thin Layer: Use a small amount of the medication to cover the affected area. Apply a thin layer and gently rub it in, usually twice daily or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Wash Hands: After application, wash your hands (unless the hands are in the treated area).
  • Avoid Covered Dressings: Do not cover the treated area with bandages or other coverings unless directed by your doctor.
  • Complete the Course: Continue to use Ciclopirox for the full-time prescribed, even if symptoms disappear after a few days.

Ciclopirox Nail Lacquer (for fungal nail infections)

  • Preparation: Clean the affected nails with soap and water. Dry them completely. Remove any loose nail or nail material using nail clippers or a nail file.
  • Application: Apply the nail lacquer with the brush provided to the entire surface of the affected nail(s) and the surrounding skin, ideally at bedtime or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Drying Time: Allow the medication to dry (about 30 seconds) before putting on socks or stockings.
  • Weekly Removal: Once a week, remove the lacquer with a remover or alcohol, trim the nails, and file away any loose nail material.
  • Repeat Application: Apply the lacquer again as directed.

Ciclopirox Shampoo

  • Wet Hair: Wet your hair and scalp thoroughly with water.
  • Apply Shampoo: Apply approximately 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the shampoo to the scalp. Up to 2 teaspoons (10 mL) may be used for long hair.
  • Lather and Rinse: Lather and leave it in place for 3 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly.
  • Frequency of Use: Use the shampoo twice weekly or as directed by your doctor.

[Note: Your doctor will decide the right amount for you based on your condition, following guidelines and studies on the drug. They’ll adjust it as needed over time.]

How Does Ciclopirox Work?

Ciclopirox is an antifungal agent used to treat various skin and nail fungal infections. It works by inhibiting the growth of fungi by disrupting the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins, which are essential for fungal growth and reproduction. Specifically, ciclopirox chelates metal ions such as iron and aluminum, which are crucial for enzymatic activities within the fungal cells. This action not only prevents the fungi from thriving but also directly kills the fungal cells, providing relief from infections such as athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and seborrheic dermatitis. Ciclopirox is available in several forms, including creams, shampoos, and nail lacquers.

Important Safety Information

Side Effects

Common side effects of this medication may include:

  • Skin Irritation
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Dry Skin
  • Skin Discoloration
  • Peeling or Scaling of the Skin
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Nail Changes

Serious side effects of this medication may include:

  • Life-Threatening Reactions:
    • Anaphylaxis: A severe allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, swelling, and a drop in blood pressure.
    • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN): Rare but serious skin reactions that cause blistering, peeling, and damage to the skin and mucous membranes.
  • Organ Damage:
    • Liver Toxicity: Some medications can harm the liver, leading to jaundice, abdominal pain, and liver failure.
    • Kidney Damage: Certain drugs can affect kidney function and lead to kidney failure.
    • Cardiac Arrhythmias: Some medications may cause abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Blood Disorders:
    • Agranulocytosis: A severe reduction in white blood cells, which can increase the risk of infections.
    • Thrombocytopenia: Low platelet count, leading to bleeding and bruising.
  • Neurological Effects:
    • Seizures: Some drugs can trigger seizures in susceptible individuals.
    • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS): A rare but serious reaction associated with antipsychotic medications.
  • Psychiatric Effects:
    • Suicidal Thoughts: Certain antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
    • Hallucinations: Some medications can cause hallucinations or other mental health disturbances.
  • Cardiovascular Complications:
    • QT Prolongation: Certain drugs can affect the heart’s electrical activity, leading to potentially life-threatening arrhythmias.

[Note: Remember, this list may not cover all possible side effects. Always consult with your healthcare giver for medical advice about side effects.]


  • Application Guidelines for Ciclopirox: This medication is specifically formulated for application to the skin, nails, or scalp only. It should not be applied to the eyes, inside of the nose, lips, mouth, or vaginal area, as it may cause irritation. If ciclopirox is mistakenly applied to these sensitive areas, rinse immediately with water and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Allergic Reactions: Ciclopirox commonly causes mild symptoms like redness, burning, or stinging. However, if you experience severe reactions such as blistering, oozing, swelling, or difficulty breathing, these may be signs of a serious allergic reaction. Discontinue use and seek immediate medical attention, or contact your healthcare provider.


  • Before using ciclopirox, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to this medication or if you have any other allergies. Be aware that this product may contain inactive ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions or other issues. For more information, please consult with your pharmacist.
  • Also, share your medical history with your healthcare provider, particularly if you have diabetes or experience numbness in your fingers or toes, such as from diabetic neuropathy.
  • Before undergoing surgery, inform your doctor or dentist about all the products you use, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal products.
  • Ciclopirox should only be used during pregnancy when absolutely necessary. Discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor.
  • The excretion of this medication into breast milk is not established. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.


  • Hypersensitivity: Ciclopirox should not be used by individuals with a known allergy to ciclopirox or any inactive ingredients in the formulation. Allergic reactions can range from mild skin irritation to severe conditions such as anaphylaxis.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Ciclopirox, apply it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular dosing schedule.

[Note: If you have missed a dose of your medication and are unsure about when to take the next one, immediately consult your doctor or pharmacist.]


An overdose of ciclopirox is not typically associated with severe symptoms unless it is used excessively over a prolonged period. However, ingestion of this medication could be harmful, necessitating immediate medical attention.

[Note: If you consumed more than recommended dose, get medical help right away, or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.]


  • Store it at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Keep it from freezing.
  • Keep it out of the reach of children.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

[Note: Discuss with your healthcare professional about the proper disposal of any unused medicine and any questions you may have regarding its storage.]

Ciclopirox Interactions

  • Avoid using other topical products in the same treatment area without consulting a healthcare provider, as this can potentially alter the effect or absorption of ciclopirox.
  • Some forms of ciclopirox, especially the nail lacquer, may interact with products containing high concentrations of alcohol or astringents, potentially causing irritation or changes in the efficacy of the medication.
  • Applying cosmetics or using occlusive dressings over areas treated with ciclopirox cream or lotion may increase systemic absorption, potentially leading to increased side effects.
  • While not directly a drug interaction, patients using ciclopirox, particularly those using it extensively or over large areas of the body, should be aware of potential photosensitivity. It’s advisable to limit sun exposure and use sunscreen to prevent sunburns.
  • When ciclopirox is used in conjunction with oral antifungal agents, the therapeutic effects should be monitored, and adjustments may be necessary to avoid over-treatment or adverse effects.
  • The pH can influence the absorption of ciclopirox in the skin. Using products that significantly alter the skin pH may affect the solubility and efficacy of ciclopirox.
  • Some herbal products known for their potential effects on skin sensitivity and integrity (such as aloe vera or tea tree oil) might interact with topical ciclopirox, either by enhancing its irritative effects or altering its intended action.

[Note: This isn’t a complete list, and there could be other drugs that interact with Ciclopirox. Make sure to tell your doctor about any prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal products you’re taking.]

Ciclopirox Alternatives

[Note: Your doctor will choose what’s best for you. Don’t use any of these alternative medications without consulting your healthcare provider. Taking them by yourself may cause serious side effects.] 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical timeframe for ciclopirox to show effects?

The effectiveness of ciclopirox varies depending on the type of fungal infection being treated. For skin infections like athlete’s foot or ringworm, you may begin to feel relief from itchiness within a week of using ciclopirox cream or topical suspension. Improvements may take up to a month to become noticeable when using ciclopirox shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis. Fungal nail infections treated with ciclopirox nail lacquer often require several months of consistent application before nail improvements are seen. It is crucial to continue using ciclopirox for the full duration prescribed by your healthcare provider. They may also schedule follow-up appointments a few weeks after starting treatment to assess its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

How effective is the ciclopirox solution in treating nail infections?

Treating nail infections can be challenging, and using ciclopirox nail lacquer, combined with proper nail care, might take up to a year to clear the infection effectively. Clinical studies have shown that 29-36% of patients using ciclopirox successfully cleared their toenail infections after one year of treatment. This is significantly higher than the 9-11% clearance rate in placebo patients. For optimal results, it is critical to use ciclopirox precisely as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

What is the correct method for applying ciclopirox nail lacquer?

To effectively apply ciclopirox nail lacquer, use the applicator brush provided to apply the lacquer once daily at bedtime to all affected nails. Ensure an even coating over the entire nail surface. If accessible, also use the lacquer on the underside of the nail and the skin beneath it. Layer the lacquer daily on top of the previous day’s coat. Every 7 days, remove the accumulated lacquer using rubbing alcohol. Additionally, your healthcare provider may advise you to file away any loose nail material and trim your nails each week when you remove the lacquer.

Is ciclopirox suitable for children?

The suitability of ciclopirox for children varies depending on the medication’s form. Ciclopirox cream and topical suspension are FDA-approved for use in children aged 10 and older. The gel and shampoo forms are approved for children aged 16 and older. Meanwhile, the nail solution can be safely used by children aged 12 and older. It’s important to consult with your child’s healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment option based on their specific needs.

What precautions should I take while using ciclopirox topical?

While using ciclopirox topical, avoid getting the medication in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If contact occurs, rinse the area thoroughly with water.

  • Do not apply other topical medications to the treated areas unless directed by your doctor.
  • Avoid using nail polish, artificial nails, or cosmetic nail products on nails treated with ciclopirox nail lacquer.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting, synthetic clothing to help prevent the worsening of fungal infections. Opt for loose-fitting garments made of cotton or other natural fibers to promote air circulation and aid healing.

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