(HealthDay News) – A single 10-minute, at-home treatment with topical ivermectin lotion eliminates head lice infestations in nearly all patients by the next day, according to a study published in the Nov 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David M Pariser, MD, from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, and colleagues randomly assigned 765 patients with head lice (≥6 months of age) to a single application of 0.5% ivermectin lotion or vehicle control without nit combing.

The researchers found that a significantly greater percentage of the ivermectin group was free of lice on Day Two (94.9% vs. 31.3%), Day Eight (85.2% vs. 20.8%), and Day 15 (73.8% vs. 17.6%). Both groups had similar frequency and severity of adverse events.

“In conclusion, ivermectin has a well-established safety profile, on the basis of extensive oral use, and a novel mode of action,” Pariser and colleagues conclude. “Topical ivermectin showed high efficacy within 24 hours, with most treated patients remaining louse-free through the final assessment two weeks after a single treatment, without the need for nit combing.”

The study was funded by Topaz Pharmaceuticals (now Sanofi Pasteur), which provided the study medication; two authors disclosed financial ties to Topaz Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi Pasteur.

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