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Benzyl Alcohol Lotion Approved By FDA For Head Lice Treatment

Head Lice Treatment

Head lice, pediculosis capitis, now has a new treatment. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new prescription medication for treatment of head lice infestation. Benzyl Alcohol Lotion, 5%, has been approval as a prescription medication, for use in patients 6 months of age and older.

Head lice are found worldwide. Although reliable data on how many people in the United States get head lice each year are not available, an estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. Head lice are easily transmitted to others; classmates and family members. Now there is a new method approved for head lice treatment.

Benzyl alcohol lotion, 5%, has been shown to be an effective first line treatment to eliminate head lice infestation. The safety and effectiveness of Benzyl Alcohol Lotion, 5%, was demonstrated in two studies of 628 people, 6 months of age and older, with active head lice infestation. The subjects received two, 10-minute treatments of either Benzyl Alcohol Lotion or a topical placebo, one week apart. Fourteen days after the final treatment, more than 75 percent of the subjects treated with Benzyl Alcohol Lotion, 5%, were lice free.

Common side effects of the medication include irritations of the skin, scalp, and eyes, and numbness at the site of application. The product should be applied only to the scalp or the hair attached to the scalp. It is not approved for use in children younger than six months. Use in premature infants could lead to serious respiratory, heart- or brain-related adverse events such as seizure, coma, or death.

Benzyl Alcohol Lotion, 5%, is distributed by Sciele Pharma Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Shionogi Company.

The signs and symptoms of head lice infestation include

* Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair.

* Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of the head louse.

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* Irritability and difficulty sleeping; head lice are most active in the dark.

* Sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria found on the person's skin.

Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. So after head lice treatment these tips can help prevent reinfestation:

* Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).

* Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.

* Do not share infested combs, brushes, or towels.

* Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, rugs, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.

* To help control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp, children can be taught to avoid activities that may spread head lice.

Food and Drug Administration
National Institute of Health
Center for Disease Control and Prevention