Oral Medication May be more Effective than Topical for Killing Head Lice

In a column I wrote for physicians nearly a decade ago, I discussed the growing use of oral medications, like ivermectin, for some topical skin infections. Now, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that in tough cases of head lice, Stromectol (ivermectin), which is “not approved for use in the US for head lice,” eradicates the “parasites more effectively than” a lotion containing the insecticide malathion.

According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the researchers studied “812 people in 376 households in seven areas in the world,” and found that in the “ivermectin group, 95% of the participants were lice-free after two weeks, compared with 85% of the malathion group.” The Times adds, “Ivermectin is not approved for use in the US for head lice.”

Bloomberg News points out that “those in the medical trial were considered hard to cure because they had been treated unsuccessfully with lotions for their head lice for two to six weeks before the start of the study.”

The researchers also “said the medicine should be restricted to people whose head lice doesn’t go away with other treatments to prevent resistance to the drug.”

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