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Permethrin is used to treat scabies (itchy and highly contagious skin infestation by itch mite sarcoptes scabiei), infestation by head lice (head paediculosis) and pubic infestation (paediculosis pubis).

How it works

Permethrin is a pyrethroid compound and it belongs to a class of medications called as Ectoparasiticides.  It acts on the nervous system of variety of pests including itch mite and head and pubic lice causing paralysis and death.

Common side effects

Mouth swelling, Itching, Skin rash, Stinging sensation, Burning sensation, Skin redness, Rash, Throat tightness, Chest tightness, Shortness of breath, Irritation


Expert advice

  • Inform you doctor if you have any skin conditions or allergies to medicines, food or other substances, asthma, or if you have any other medical conditions. 
  • Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes and wear gloves to avoid irritation to hands. If permethrin is accidentally introduced into the eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water. 
  • Apply the medication on small part of the hair to ensure it does not affect coloured or permed hair before application to entire head.
  • Check hair for active infestation with lice or nits after one repetition of treatment after 14 days as you may be at risk of developing resistance to treatment.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is permethrin over the counter medicine?
Permethrin is not an over the counter medicine. It is sold only upon a prescription by a registered medical practitioner.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)