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Quick guide to Malathion Skin Lotion

Brand Name(s): Ovide

Generic Name Malathion Skin Lotion

What is malathion skin lotion?

MALATHION skin lotion (Ovide®) is used to treat lice of the hair and scalp. It acts by destroying both the lice and their eggs. Lice are spread by person-to-person contact. They are a common problem in children of school-age. Having lice does not mean that a person is unclean. Lice are effectively treated with medications like malathion and a few simple activities. Other medications are usually not needed. Generic malathion lotion is not yet available.

What should my health care professional know before I use malathion skin lotion?

They need to know if you have any of the following conditions:

  • asthma
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to veterinary or household insecticides
  • rashes or open sores on the skin
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to malathion, alcohol, pine or pine-scented products, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • breast feeding
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

How should I use this medicine?

Malathion is for external use only. It is a poison if it is swallowed. DO NOT TAKE by mouth. Carefully follow the instructions of your health care professional.

If you are applying malathion to another person, wear disposable gloves to protect yourself from lice infestation.

For the treatment of head lice: Do not wet or shampoo the hair. This product must be applied to dry hair. Shake the malathion lotion well before applying. Ask the person being treated to tightly shut their eyes during medication application. Then, apply enough malathion to the hair to wet the hair and scalp, and thoroughly rub the medicine gently into the hair and scalp until wet. Make sure you get behind the ears and on the back of the neck. Take care to avoid the eyes and inside of the ears. Wash your hands after application.

Leave the malathion lotion on the hair for 8—12 hours. MALATHION IS FLAMMABLE. Do not use near heat or flame; do not use a hair dryer or curling iron while this product is on the hair and scalp - let the hair dry naturally. Do not smoke. Do not cover the head while the medication is applied.

After the 8—12 hours have passed, rinse the lotion from the hair and scalp. Wash the hair with a non-medicated shampoo to remove the dead lice. Dry with a clean towel. When the hair is dry, inspect the hair in small sections. Use a magnifying glass if needed. Comb each small section of hair with a clean, fine toothed comb to remove any leftover nits (eggs) or nit shells. Your pharmacy has special combs that are very good at removing the nits (eggs); ask your pharmacist about buying a nit comb. It is very important that you remove all nits (eggs) that you can see. This step is just as important as applying the medication. Wash the comb in hot water after use. Repeat the combing of the hair every night for a week to make sure you have removed the nits (eggs) and to make sure the lice are gone.

NOTE: Itching may occur for several days after the malathion treatment; this does not mean that the treatment has failed. If you still see lice after one week, see your prescriber or health care professional. You may need a second treatment. Do not apply a second treatment unless instructed to do so by your prescriber; applying a second treatment too soon or if it is not needed will cause discomfort.

What if I miss a dose?

This does not apply as malathion is normally used as a single dose.

What drug(s) may interact with malathion?

Tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are using any other prescription or nonprescription medicine that is to be applied to the hair and scalp. These may affect the way your medicine works.

Tell your prescriber or other health care professional about all other medicines, nutritional supplements, herbal and non-prescription medicines you are taking. Check before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from using malathion skin lotion?

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or other health care professional as soon as possible:

  • shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or cough
  • rash
  • redness or irritation of the eyes

Malathion skin lotion may cause rare allergic reactions. Notify a health care professional immediately if you have an allergic reaction — some of the side effects listed above may indicate an allergy.

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • itching that continues beyond 7 days
  • redness or mild swelling of the scalp
  • stinging or burning of the scalp
  • tingling sensation

What should I watch for while taking malathion skin lotion?

Malathion is used as a single application treatment. However, if live lice are observed 7—9 or more days after initial application, a second treatment may be needed. Contact your prescriber before applying a second treatment of malathion.

If skin irritation occurs, wash scalp and hair immediately. If the irritation clears, the lotion may be reapplied. If irritation reoccurs, consult your prescriber. Slight stinging sensations may occur while using malathion lotion.

Keep malathion lotion away from your eyes. If you accidentally get some in your eyes, rinse your eyes with cool water right away. Seek medical help if the eyes are hurting.

Malathion lotion contains alcohol which is flammable. Do not use hair dryers or curling irons while using malathion lotion. Do not smoke or go near open flames or electric heat sources.

All recently worn clothing, underwear, pajamas, used sheets, pillowcases, and towels should be washed in very hot water or dry-cleaned. Close personal contact can spread the infestation. Family members and sexual contacts may require treatment for lice.

Avoid using insecticides in the home while using malathion treatment.

Where can I keep my medicine?

Malathion is a POISON if swallowed. Keep out of the reach of children and pets. Keep in a container that children cannot open. Contact your health care provider and poison control center immediately if someone swallows this lotion.

Store at room temperature 20 and 25 °C (68 and 77 °F) away from heat and direct light. This product is Flammable. Keep away from heat and open flame. Do not refrigerate or freeze the lotion. After treatment, throw away any unused medicine in a garbage can that cannot be reached by children or pets.


(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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