Lindane for Lice

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Lindane for Lice


Generic NameBrand Name
lindaneHexit, PMS-Lindane

Lindane is available over-the-counter as a lotion or shampoo to treat lice. Treatment needs to be repeated 1 week after the first dose.

Lindane can cause serious side effects if you do not use it exactly as directed. Lindane lotion or cream (for pubic lice) should be applied and rubbed into cool, dry skin and hair. If it is applied to warm, moist skin (such as right after a bath or shower), it will be absorbed quickly by the skin and could cause side effects. The lotion is left on for 8 to 12 hours and then washed off.

Lindane shampoo (for head lice) is applied to dry hair and thoroughly rubbed into the hair and scalp. It is left on for 4 minutes, worked into a lather with a small amount of water, and rinsed well.

How It Works

Lindane kills lice but does not kill lice eggs (nits).

Why It Is Used

Lindane is sometimes used when other products fail to get rid of lice or when a person can't use any of the other products.

Lindane should not be used by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, small children, people who have seizure disorders, or people who have certain skin diseases that may increase the likelihood that the product will be absorbed into their skin.

How Well It Works

Lindane can be effective at treating head and pubic lice.

In some places, lice have become resistant to lindane. So lindane may not work as well as other treatments for lice.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you or your child and you wonder if you or your child should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you or your child has:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you or your child has:

  • Seizures.
  • A feeling of being dizzy or unsteady.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Fussiness, grouchiness, or restlessness.
  • Vomiting.

Lindane can cause serious nervous system side effects if you do not use it exactly as directed.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Lindane is a poison. It can cause harm if it's swallowed or absorbed into the skin. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor tells you to. Keep it away from the eyes and mouth.

If you have a seizure disorder or if you have certain skin conditions, do not use lindane.

Experts advise that this product be used exactly as labelled. Although most of the side effects reported from this product are from misuse and overuse, it does contain potentially harmful toxins.

Itching may last for 7 to 10 days after treatment. But itching is not a reason to use the product again. Overuse of lice products (such as using the product more often than it was prescribed) can irritate the skin and may increase the risk of side effects.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised January 28, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.