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Benzyl Alcohol for Head Lice

Examples

Topical

Generic Name Brand Name
benzyl alcohol 5% Ulesfia

This prescription lotion is applied to dry hair, left on for 10 minutes, and then rinsed.

How It Works

This medicine kills adult lice, but not their eggs.

Why It Is Used

Benzyl alcohol lotion can be used to treat head lice in people ages 6 months and older.

How Well It Works

Studies have shown it works well to kill head lice in most people who use it.1

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 and you wonder if you 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.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you or your child has:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Burning, stinging, tingling, itching, redness, or rash of the skin, scalp, or eye.
  • Numbness.

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

What To Think About

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.

Checkups

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

References

Citations

  1. Benzyl alcohol lotion for head lice (2009). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 51(1317): 57–58. [Erratum in Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 51(1319): 68.]

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised August 30, 2012

Last Revised: August 30, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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