malathion (Ovide)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is malathion-topical, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Malathion is a pesticide used for killing head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis). It kills head lice and lice eggs by blocking the activity of enzymes (cholinesterase) that breaks-down and inactivates acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) in head lice. This causes high levels of acetylcholine which leads to death of lice.
  • The FDA approved malathion in August, 1982.

What brand names are available for malathion-topical?


Is malathion-topical available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for malathion-topical?


What are the uses for malathion-topical?

  • Malathion is used for treating people who have head lice and their eggs (Pediculus humanus capitis).

What are the side effects of malathion-topical?

Common side effects of malathion include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Scalp irritation
  • Other side effects include:
  • Mild conjunctivitis from accidental eye contact
  • Possible serious side effects include:
  • Chemical burn (second degree burn)

Malathion is flammable

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/6/2016

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