Oral potassium iodide for the treatment of sporotrichosis

Potassium iodide is an anti-fungal drug listed in the World Health Organization (WHO) essential drug list and generally thought to be the first choice for cutaneous sporotrichosis including fixed and lymphocutaneous types, in developing countries. No randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of oral potassium iodide versus placebo were found and thus its efficacy and safety could not be analysed in this review. There is a need for randomised placebo controlled trials of oral potassium iodide in this area.

Authors' conclusions: 

The currently available evidence is insufficient to assess the potential for oral potassium iodide in the treatment of sporotrichosis.

There is no high-quality evidence for or against oral potassium iodide as a treatment for sporotrichosis. Further randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trials are needed to define the efficacy and acceptability of these interventions.

Read the full abstract...

Sporotrichosis is a subacute or chronic disease, usually affecting the skin caused by a dimorphic (existing in two forms), aerobic (oxygen requiring) fungus called Sporothrix schenckii. Oral potassium iodide is widely used for cutaneous sporotrichosis in clinical medicine with more and more reports published. However, the benefits and adverse reactions of these treatments have not yet been systematically reviewed.


To assess the effects of oral potassium iodide for the treatment of sporotrichosis.

Search strategy: 

In July 2009 we searched the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Skin Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Clinical Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library (Issue 3, 2009), MEDLINE and EMBASE, The Chinese Biomedical Database, CNKI, VIP, and ongoing trials registers.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised trials comparing orally administered iodide with placebo, or with another treatment. Studies about potassium iodide as an adjunct were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors planned to independently assess trial quality and extract data. We also planned to collect adverse effects information from the trials where possible.

Main results: 

In the absence of any suitable randomised placebo-controlled trials or comparisons with other treatments in this area, we were unable to assess the effects of oral potassium iodide.