I first heard about the drug, ivermectin, as a paste wormer for horses. It kills parasites. I then discovered that oral ivermectin has been used for some time, as a last resort when over the counter and prescription head lice shampoos have not been effective. A new study suggests that ivermectin lotion may be the answer parents have been searching for when it comes to controlling head lice.
Researchers said that a single 10-minute hair application eliminated head lice in nearly 3 out of 4 children. The lotion is sold under the brand name Sklice by Sanofi Pasteur, which paid for the study.
Using a lotion with 0.5 percent ivermectin, the researchers found that after 14 days it had worked in 73.8 percent of 141 volunteers - most of whom were children younger than 12. In comparison, 17.6 percent of the 148 kids (and a handful of adults) whose hair was treated with a drug-free form of the lotion were louse-free after two weeks.
Lotions were applied to dry hair and then rinsed out after 10 minutes. The immediate success rate, judged the day after the lotion application, was 94.9 percent in the test group and 31.5 percent in the control group.
"The advantage of it is, it's a one-application, one-shot treatment," lead author Dr. David Pariser of Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk, told Reuters Health.
The study involved children from 11 states and did not compare the ivermectin to any other treatment. But in a previous study where ivermectin was tested against other drugs, Pariser and his colleagues note that ivermectin showed a similar one-day success rate of 92.4 percent while malathion, an insecticide sometimes used to treat lice, cleared 82.4 percent of patients after one day.
The FDA approved Sklice, in February 2012, for topical treatment of head lice in patients 6 months or older. The lotion is only available by prescription. On the website, sklice.com, common side effects are listed as eye redness