Pharmacokinetics and safety of 0.5% ivermectin lotion for head louse infestations

Pediatr Dermatol. May-Jun 2013;30(3):323-8. doi: 10.1111/pde.12033. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


The safety of a novel 0.5% ivermectin lotion (IVL) and potential for ivermectin absorption after application was investigated in an open-label study in young children, and a human repeat insult patch test (HRIPT) and cumulative irritation test (CIT) assessed any potential for cumulative dermal irritation and contact sensitization. In the pharmacokinetic and safety study, 30 head louse-infested children ages 6 months to 3 years received a 10-minute application of IVL on day 1. Blood was collected before application; 0.5, 1, and 6 hours after rinsing; and on days 2 and 8. Samples from 20 subjects were assayed for ivermectin (test sensitivity 0.05 ng/mL). Liver panel and complete blood counts were completed for all subjects. For the HRIPT/CIT, occlusive patches containing IVL or vehicle control lotion (CL) were repeatedly applied to 220 healthy adult subjects to assess contact sensitization; for cumulative dermal irritation testing, additional patches with normal saline and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) were applied to 36 subjects. In the open-label study, all detected ivermectin plasma concentrations were <1 ng/mL. No safety signals emerged, and treatment was well tolerated. In the HRIPT/CIT, IVL was significantly less irritating than normal saline and SDS, with no evidence of dermal irritation or sensitization in human skin. IVL was safe when applied topically, absorption was de minimus, there was no evidence of irritation or sensitization from repeated exposures, and results support the safety of topical IVL use in children as young as 6 months.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insecticides / administration & dosage
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Insecticides / pharmacokinetics
  • Ivermectin / administration & dosage
  • Ivermectin / adverse effects*
  • Ivermectin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Lice Infestations / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Pediculus / drug effects*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin Cream / administration & dosage
  • Skin Cream / adverse effects
  • Skin Cream / pharmacokinetics


  • Insecticides
  • Ivermectin