Malathion for Lice
This prescription lotion must be applied to dry hair and left on for 8 to 12 hours before rinsing off. Do not use hair conditioner. Because this medicine contains alcohol, avoid sources of heat and open flame such as hair dryers, curling irons, fireplaces, and cigarettes until it has dried.
If lice are still present 7 to 9 days later, your doctor may suggest a second treatment.
How It Works
Malathion kills lice and their eggs (nits).
Why It Is Used
Malathion works very well against lice. It is less widely used than other lice medicines because treatment requires 8 to 12 hours and because the odor is bad.
Malathion is not recommended for use by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding or children younger than 2 years of age.
How Well It Works
Malathion works very well at killing lice after one treatment. It sometimes is used to treat lice that have become resistant to permethrin and pyrethrins.
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 your child has:
Side effects of this medicine include:
It can cause severe respiratory problems if swallowed.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Malathion contains alcohol and is able to catch fire until it dries. Do not expose it to open flame, cigarettes, or electric heat (such as hair dryers). Allow your hair to air-dry after you use this medicine.
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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