Malathion Topical


Malathion topical lotion is used to treat head lice (small insects that attach themselves to the skin) in adults and children 6 years of age and older. It should not be used in infants and children younger than 2 years of age. Malathion is in a class of medications called pediculicides. It works by killing lice.

Side Effects Of Malathion Topical

Malathion lotion may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • irritation of the skin or scalp area
  • stinging of the skin

Malathion lotion may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.

Warnings & Precautions

Before using malathion topical lotion:

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to malathion, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in malathion lotion. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any medical conditions or skin sensitivities.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using malathion lotion, call your doctor.

Dosage Of Malathion Topical

Malathion comes as a lotion to apply to the scalp and hair. It is usually applied to the scalp and hair in one or sometimes two treatments. If live lice are seen 7 to 9 days after the first treatment then apply a second treatment of malathion lotion. Follow the directions on your prescription label or the package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use malathion topical lotion exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient. Read these instructions carefully.

Malathion lotion should only be used on the hair and scalp. If you experience skin irritation, wash scalp and hair right away. If the irritation gets better, you can apply malathion lotion again. If you experience skin irritation again, call your doctor.

Avoid getting malathion topical lotion in your eyes. If malathion lotion gets in your eyes, flush them with water right away. If your eyes are still irritated after flushing with water, call your doctor or get medical help right away.

To use the lotion, follow these steps:

  • Be sure to keep your eyes closed during this treatment. You may need to have an adult help you apply the lotion.
  • Apply malathion lotion to dry hair and scalp area paying special attention to the area behind your ears and at the back of your neck. Be sure to use enough lotion to cover the entire scalp area and hair thoroughly.
  • Allow hair to air dry and to remain uncovered. Malathion topical lotion is flammable. The lotion and wet hair should not be exposed to open flames or electric heat sources, including hair dryers or curlers. Do not smoke while applying lotion or while hair is wet.
  • Leave the lotion on your hair and scalp for 8 to 12 hours.
  • After 8 to 12 hours have passed, shampoo your hair and scalp with warm water in a sink. You should not use a shower or bathtub to rinse the lotion away because you do not want to get the lotion over the rest of your body.
  • You and anyone who helped you apply the lotion should wash your hands carefully after the application and rinsing steps.
  • Use lice comb to remove the dead lice and nits (empty eggshells) after this treatment. You may also need to have an adult help you to do this.
  • If you see live lice on your head 7 to 9 days after treatment, repeat this entire process.
  • After using malathion topical lotion, sanitize all the clothing, underwear, pajamas, hats, sheets, pillowcases, and towels you have used recently. These items should be washed in very hot water or dry-cleaned. You should also wash combs, brushes, hair clips, and other personal care items in hot water.


Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else use your malathion lotion. Your prescription for malathion lotion is probably not refillable. If you feel you need additional treatment, call your doctor.

Lice are generally spread by close head-to-head contact or from items that come in contact with your head. Do not share combs, brushes, towels, pillows, hats, scarves, or hair accessories. Be sure to check everyone in your immediate family for head lice if another family member is being treated for lice.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.