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Beware of Lindane

It might kill more than lice

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So your child's head lice just laugh at that over-the-counter poison shampoo you tried. What's your next step? Your doctor might prescribe a super-strong potion to kill the critters once and for all. But if it contains Lindane, be aware that the Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings as to the safe use of this very powerful pesticide. For kids who are smaller, more medically fragile, or more neurologically impaired, it may not be worth the risk.

The following items of particular concern to parents of children with special needs are excerpted from an FDA FAQ on Lindane:

• Serious side effects including seizures and deaths have been reported to the FDA in patients who use too much Lindane or after a second treatment with Lindane.

• Seizures can happen in some patients even if they use Lindane as directed.

• Certain people are at higher risk to develop seizures and death from Lindane. This includes: babies and children, and people weighing less than 110 pounds.

• You should not use Lindane Shampoo or Lindane Lotion if you: have a seizure disorder (convulsions, fits) or have ever had a seizure, especially seizures that have been hard to control; have open sores or crusted (scabby) sores on the skin around your head and neck, or lots of broken skin in the treatment area; have other skin conditions such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

• It is difficult to know who may experience side effects, however, tell your health care provider if you: have HIV or AIDS; have diabetes; have had a head trauma, seizures, or a brain tumor; have liver disease; take any medications, including prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements.

• Some medications can increase your chances of having a seizure, such as:Antidepressants, Chlopromazine (Thorazine) and other antipsychotics, Chloroquine, Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or penicillins, Methocarbamol (Robaxin), Pemoline (Cylert), Promethazine (Phenergan), Theophylline, Corticosteroids.

• There is increasing concern that patients weighing less than 110 pounds, the elderly and babies may be more susceptible to side effects. Babies, because of their size and thin skin may absorb more Lindane Shampoo or Lindane Lotion and may be more at risk for serious side effects. 

• Lindane may cause serious side effects such as seizures (convulsions, fits) or death. Lindane can also make you feel sleepy, dizzy, or can cause body shaking that you cannot control. The most common side effects of Lindane are: itching skin, burning skin, dry skin, or a skin rash.

• To report serious side effects, visit www.fda.gov/medwatch and click on "Submit Report" in the blue sidebar, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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To read one parent's tragic account of Lindane's effect on a child with special needs, see Jesse's Story.

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