What Is Permethrin Cream?

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Permethrin cream is a topical solution used to treat infections caused by mites, lice and other arthropods. The solution can be bought in liquid, lotion or cream form. If the prescription comes in a 1 percent solution, the lower dosage is usually used for lice and egg destruction. A prescription of 5 percent is used in the effective treatment of mites, or scabies. The use of this medication should only be applied on children who are 2 and older and adults.

Permethrin cream is a topical solution used to treat infections caused by mites, lice and other arthropods.
Permethrin cream is a topical solution used to treat infections caused by mites, lice and other arthropods. (Image: Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos/iStock/Getty Images)

Lice Treatment

If you use permethrin for lice treatment, the solution will come in a container that is only used for one application. Any portion of the lotion that is not used, should be discarded. Prior to applying the medication, you need to wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo. Then rinse and towel dry your hair. Liberally apply the permetherin to your hair, being sure to coat your scalp. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should pay special attention to your ears and neck, making sure you coat these areas well. Allow the medication to penetrate for at least 10 minutes, and then wash the medication out.

If you use permethrin for lice treatment, the solution will come in a container that is only used for one application.
If you use permethrin for lice treatment, the solution will come in a container that is only used for one application. (Image: beichh4046/iStock/Getty Images)

Scabies Treatment

Your skin should be washed and dried before the application of the cream. Liberally apply the cream all over your body, paying close attention to the creases of your elbows, fingers, feet, toes and underarms. Most adults rarely get a scabies infection of the scalp. Children however, are more susceptible, so treatment to your child's scalp is necessary. The cream needs to be left on your body for up to 14 hours. It is best to apply the cream prior to going to bed. In the morning, you will need to wash the cream off, and put on fresh, clean clothes.

Be sure to wash and dry the skin before applying the cream.
Be sure to wash and dry the skin before applying the cream. (Image: Oskari Porkka/iStock/Getty Images)

Before Using

If you are breastfeeding, you may want to consider pumping milk for your infant while using permethrin. Small amounts of the medication are excreted into breast milk. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, there hasn't been a definitive amount of studies providing information on whether the medication causes adverse reactions to your infant. It is not known whether this medication causes any affects to a fetus in utero. If you're pregnant, you should discuss with your health care provider whether the use of this medication is okay.

You may want to consider pumping milk for your infant while using permethrin.
You may want to consider pumping milk for your infant while using permethrin. (Image: Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images)

Side Effects

The use of permethrin may cause itching and mild, burning sensations upon the skin. Itching usually subsides after two weeks. If you continue to have itching and burning sensations, speak with your physician about your symptoms. The use of permethrin on your scalp can cause tingling sensations as well. Other side effects include a numbing sensation after application, a possible rash and redness at applied sites, and possible swelling.

The use of permethrin may cause itching and mild, burning sensations upon the skin.
The use of permethrin may cause itching and mild, burning sensations upon the skin. (Image: maska82/iStock/Getty Images)

Precautions

While using permethrin, it is important to prevent the possible reinfection of you and your family. Any clothing, linens, plush toys and towels should be washed and dried in the hottest possible settings. If you cannot wash your linens, you can dry clean items, or seal them in an air tight bag for two weeks. Hairbrushes and combs should be washed in hot, soapy water for 10 minutes. During treatments, family members should not share brushes or combs. Children's toys (plastic or vinyl), should be sealed in airtight bags for up to two weeks, or washed in hot, soapy water for up to 10 minutes.

Wash your hairbrushes and combs in hot, soapy water.
Wash your hairbrushes and combs in hot, soapy water. (Image: Steve Hix/Somos Images/Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

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