Permethrin for Lice
Permethrin is available in both nonprescription and prescription strengths.
Permethrin 1% (such as Nix) is a nonprescription creme rinse used to treat lice. Here are general instructions for treating head lice:
Some doctors advise a second treatment 7 to 10 days after the first treatment if a person still has live lice on himself or herself.
Permethrin 5% (Elimite) is a prescription cream that is applied to the skin or hair, left on for 8 to 14 hours, and then rinsed off.
How It Works
Permethrin kills lice and, in many cases, their eggs (nits). Permethrin continues to kill lice and eggs for at least 2 weeks after it has been rinsed off.
Why It Is Used
Nonprescription permethrin creme rinse (such as Nix) is a common first choice for treating head lice.
Elimite may be used to treat cases of lice that persist after treatment with other nonprescription products.
How Well It Works
Permethrin is very safe and effective. But resistance to permethrin has been reported in many countries (such as the United Kingdom and the United States). If resistance to permethrin is noted, your doctor can recommend other treatment (such as malathion or pyrethrin).
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor if you or your child has:
Side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Itching may last for 7 to 10 days after treatment. But itching is not a reason to use the product again. Overuse of lice products (such as using the product twice when only a single use is prescribed) can irritate the skin and may increase the risk of side effects.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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