Oral ivermectin superior to topical malathion lotion in eradicating difficult-to-treat head-lice infestation

Head-lice infestation is prevalent worldwide, especially in children 3 to 11 years old.

Topical insecticides (i.e., pyrethroids and malathion) used as a lotion, applied twice at an interval of 7 to 11 days, are typically used for treatment. Resistance of lice to insecticides, particularly pyrethroids, results in treatment failure.

For difficult-to-treat head-lice infestation, oral ivermectin, given twice at a 7-day interval, had superior efficacy as compared with topical 0.5% malathion lotion, a finding that suggests that it could be an alternative treatment.

Why does head louse not infest body and vice versa?

Possible explanation: Body lice lay their eggs on clothing fibers instead of hair fibers (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1108991-overview).

Oral Ivermectin versus Malathion Lotion for Difficult-to-Treat Head Lice. NEJM, 2010.

Updated: 06/24/2010

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