Lindane 1% for scabies
How It Works
Lindane is a chemical that kills the scabies mite.
Lindane is available as a cream or lotion. It is applied to the skin and left on for 8 hours before being washed off with lukewarm, soapy water. Follow these instructions for using scabies medicines.
Lindane cream or lotion can cause serious side effects if you do not use it exactly as directed. General precautions include:
- Only applying it on cool and dry skin. Chemicals in lindane absorb quickly and easily. If it is applied after bathing when skin is warm and moist, lindane is more likely to become toxic and cause side effects.
- Never applying the medicine more than one time without first seeing your doctor. Itching may continue even after all the mites have been killed. If you itch, it doesn't mean that you still have scabies. Talk to your doctor, who may advise you to take an antihistamine or other medicine.
Why It Is Used
Lindane is an insecticide used to kill parasites on animals and humans. It can be used to treat scabies but usually only as a second-line treatment.1 This means that lindane should be used only after another medicine, usually permethrin (Elimite), is tried first. This is because lindane can cause dangerous side effects in certain people or if it is not used exactly as directed.
How Well It Works
An application of lindane followed by a second treatment a week later will usually cure scabies.1
The scabies mite may be able to develop a tolerance to lindane, making the medicine less effective.
Lindane can have dangerous central nervous system (neurotoxic) effects because it can become toxic when high amounts are absorbed into the bloodstream. Most serious side effects are related to misuse or overuse.2
Possible side effects can include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Breathing problems.
Rare yet severe side effects include:
- Seizures .
- Central nervous system damage.
- Aplastic anemia , which is a condition that affects how your body produces blood cells.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Permethrin is the preferred medicine for treating scabies. But lindane is prescribed in special cases, such as when a person has an allergic reaction to permethrin. When it is used correctly, lindane is considered a safe and effective treatment for scabies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory to use this product exactly as labeled. Although most of the side effects reported from this product are from misuse and overuse, it contains potentially harmful toxins that can affect the central nervous system.
If your doctor prescribes lindane to treat scabies, make sure you receive, understand, and follow detailed instructions for using it correctly.
Lindane is sometimes used (with caution) on children who weigh less than 110 lb (49.9 kg).2
The state of California has banned lindane products for treating human cases of scabies or lice.1
Itching commonly continues for up to several weeks after treatment with a scabies medicine. This doesn't mean that the scabies mites are still alive; it means that the body is still reacting to the mites and their feces. Do not apply scabies medicine more often than your doctor recommends. Not only will you increase the risk of side effects, but also you will likely irritate your skin, and you may itch even more. Talk to your doctor about other medicines you can take, such as antihistamines, to help relieve your symptoms.
- Stone SP, et al. (2008). Scabies, other mites, and pediculosis. In K Wolff et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2029–2037. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2003). FDA issues health advisory regarding labeling changes for lindane products. FDA Talk Paper T03-19. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2003/ANS01205.html.
Last Updated: March 30, 2009