Lindane toxicity: a comprehensive review of the medical literature

Pediatr Dermatol. 2012 Mar-Apr;29(2):141-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2011.01519.x. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Lindane is an organochloride pesticide, first introduced as a scabicide for human use in the 1950s. Because of its low cost and efficacy, it quickly became a first-line treatment for scabies and head lice, but not long after its use became widespread, its safety was called into question, primarily regarding its neurotoxic effects. We intend to show through review of the literature and databases that lindane has been associated with numerous severe and fatal adverse reactions. This review will summarize 67 cases of adverse reactions and deaths associated with the medical use of lindane. Many of the most serious events and fatalities occurred in pediatric and geriatric populations. We concede that toxicity frequently arises from misuse, but labeled usage of lindane caused 43% of the serious adverse reactions of this review. Moreover, the numerous instances of lindane misuse elucidate the importance of clear labeling and instructions, especially with a product with a narrow therapeutic index. Therefore, this report attempts to elucidate the dangers of lindane as a medical treatment for scabies and head lice by providing a comprehensive review of all documented adverse drug reactions since its introduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acaricides / adverse effects
  • Acaricides / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity
  • Lice Infestations / drug therapy
  • Scabies / drug therapy


  • Acaricides
  • Insecticides
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane