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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Permethrin (Topical)

Permethrin (On The Skin)

Permethrin (per-METH-rin)

Treats head lice and scabies.

Brand Name(s):

Acticin, Elimite, Permethrin
There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to permethrin or to chrysanthemum plants.

How to Use This Medicine:

Cream, Lotion

  • Use this medicine exactly as your doctor ordered. Use the medicine on the skin only. Keep the medicine out of eyes, nose, and mouth. If the medicine gets in your eyes, rinse them well with water.
  • Shake lotion well before using.
  • For hair: Before using permethrin, shampoo, rinse, and dry your hair. Apply permethrin lotion generously, covering all areas of your scalp. Follow label directions for length of time permethrin should be left on the scalp.
  • Rinse your hair with water and dry with a clean towel. Comb hair with fine-toothed comb to remove eggs. They look like small white dots.
  • For skin: Thoroughly rub the cream into your skin from your head to the soles of your feet. Leave cream on for 8 to 12 hours. Then wash it off using a generous amount of soap and water.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you think you need another treatment, talk to your doctor.
  • Throw away any unused medicine.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store at room temperature, away from heat and light. Do not freeze.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Check with your doctor before using permethrin if your scalp is already red and inflamed.
  • Talk with your doctor before use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • This medicine is not recommended for infants less than 2 months of age.
  • Call your doctor if your eyebrows or eyelashes are affected.
  • All members of your household should be checked, because lice are easily spread from one person to another.
  • To prevent re-infection: Wash your clothes, bedding, and personal items (including washcloths, towels, hats, scarves, combs, brushes, wigs, hairpieces) in hot soapy water.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Severe skin rash, itching, or hives
  • Severe burning of the scalp

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Itching, redness or swelling of the skin or scalp
  • Mild stinging or burning of skin or scalp
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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