Dispelling misconceptions surrounding lice

August 11, 2008

Some confusion exists among the medical community and the general public about the toxicity and resistance among prescription lice treatments.

Some confusion exists among the medical community and the general public about the toxicity and resistance among prescription lice treatments.

Of the two currently approved Rx treatments – generic lindane and Ovide (malathion)– only lindane has a black box warning. Howard Rutman, M.D., department of medical affairs, TaroPharma, manufacturer of Ovide, said, "Ovide doesn't have the same kind of neurological risk of seizures that you see with lindane. So there is a big difference between the safety profiles of the two drugs."

Rutman noted that it is very important to alert patients that Ovide is flammable (because it contains isopropyl alcohol) and should be kept away from heat sources, such as hair dryers and cigarettes, while the hair is wet. Also, it is not approved for use in neonates and infants.

Several studies suggest that lice have developed increased resistance to a number of OTC treatments, while Ovide has been shown to still be 97% to 98% effective. Why no apparent resistance to it? "Because it's a prescription product, I think it's used a bit more carefully," Rutman replied. In addition, he said, in vitro studies have shown that several of its inactive ingredients (terpineol, dipentene, pine needle oil) help to prevent the development of resistance.

More information about lice can be found at the following links:

http:// http://www.cdc.gov/lice/head/index.html

http://www.sciele.com/pipeline-LiceProduct.html

http://www.parapro.com/profile.aspx

http://www.licemd.com/

http://www.healthenterprises.com/he/main_lice.php

http://www.quitnits.com/

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in New Hampshire.