Why Terbinafine and Alcohol Don't Mix

It's safest to avoid alcohol when taking terbinafine to treat fungal infections in nails and toenails.
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If you've ever dealt with a fungal infection in your nails or had a case of athlete's foot, you may be familiar with the medication terbinafine, or the brand name Lamisil.


It's an anti-fungal medicine taken orally that treats fungal infections, per the Cleveland Clinic. Adults who are prescribed terbinafine usually take it every day for 6 to 12 weeks to cure an infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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During treatment it's a good idea to take a break from drinking alcohol. That's because terbinafine is primarily metabolized through the liver, just like alcohol, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Combining terbinafine and alcohol could cause negative side effects.


"Drinking alcohol while taking terbinafine should be avoided if possible," says John Baddley, MD, a professor of medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology.

The Risks of Mixing Terbinafine and Alcohol

If you're taking terbinafine with alcohol there are certain risks and symptoms to stay mindful of, including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, headaches or jaundice, according to Dr. Baddley.

Both alcohol and Lamisil are processed in the liver, so your liver can become slightly sensitive to alcohol while taking the medication. This creates a potential risk of liver damage.


You're encouraged not to drink alcohol while taking the medication, but serious and fatal liver problems are unlikely if you do, Dr. Baddley says. "Liver failure, sometimes leading to liver transplant or death, has rarely occurred with the use of oral terbinafine," he explains.

If your doctor has prescribed terbinafine, you should carefully follow the directions to limit your risk of these side effects. Also steer clear of caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, because the medication may cause caffeine to stay in your body longer, according to the Mayo Clinic.



Alcoholic drinks don't have to be avoided for long after taking your prescribed dose of terbinafine. It's safe to resume drinking alcohol three to five days after your last dose, according to Dr. Baddley.

Other Terbinafine Side Effects

Terbinafine may result in other potential side effects, Dr. Baddley says. Possible concerns include:

If you do develop these symptoms, know they shouldn't last long after you stop taking terbinafine. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms linger after finishing your prescribed doses.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.