New Options for Eradicating Resistant Head Lice

Marcia L. Buck, Pharm.D., FCCP, FPPAG


Pediatr Pharm. 2012;18(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Since 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three new prescription-only treatments for eradication of Pediculosis capitis. While over-the-counter agents such as permethrin or pyrethins remain the recommendation for first-line therapy,[1] these new pediculosides are often more effective and may be particularly useful in difficult-to-eradicate cases or in patients with permethrin-resistant lice.[2] In addition to their efficacy, these agents produce limited systemic exposure and have few adverse effects, making them safer than malathion.

On April 10, 2009, the FDA approved benzyl alcohol 5% lotion for treatment of head lice in patients 6 months of age and older.[3] The following year, on January 18, 2010, spinosad 0.9% topical suspension was approved for adults and children 4 years of age and older.[4] The newest of the lice treatment, ivermectin 0.5% lotion, was approved on February 7, 2012 for use in patients 6 months of age and older.[5] These three new products represent three different mechanisms for eradicating lice and broaden the number of options for the management of affected children.


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