Permethrin use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Permethrin: Elimite, Nix, Nix Complete Lice Treatment System, Quellada Scabies Treatment, Acticin, Lyclear, RID Home Lice Control Spray for Surfaces, Nix Cream Rinse, Lice Bedding Spray, RID Complete Kit, Show all 19 »Lice Solution, Nix Lice Control, Complete Lice Treatment Kit, Orange Medic Plus Head Lice Treatment, Pyrifoam Lice Breaker, Quellada Head Lice Treatment for Short Hair, Ravine Anti-Lice Medicated Treatment, Quellada Head Lice Treatment, Orange Medic Head Lice Treatment
Permethrin Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Because less than 2% is absorbed after topical application, rapid metabolism to inactive metabolites and safe application directly on infants' skin, topical permethrin products are acceptable in nursing mothers. This combination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the treatment of lice infestations during lactation. Extensive exposure, such as from agricultural use or malaria control might have long-term health concerns because residues can be found in breastmilk. Only water-miscible cream, gel or liquid products should be applied to the breast because ointments may expose the infant to high levels of mineral paraffins via licking.
Maternal Levels. Permethrin was measured in 53 breastmilk samples from 29 mothers collected 1998 to 1999 in Basel Switzerland. Permethrin was detected in 25 milk samples, even in mothers from households that reported no permethrin use. The average permethrin concentration was 74 mcg/kg of fat (range undetectable [<60 mcg/kg] to 152 mcg/kg fat).
Permethrin was found in the breastmilk of nursing mothers in 3 South African towns. Average levels in breastmilk ranged from 8.3 to 48.4 mcg/L in the 3 towns. The source was thought to be from a dusting powder widely available and used in gardening. The dosage and route of exposure (i.e., topical, inhalation, oral) could not be determined. All milk levels were below the allowable daily limit for permethrin.
Samples of mature milk were collected in 2002 from 22 mothers in Mozambique where pyrethrins were used for mosquito control in the thatching of homes from 1993 to 2000 and continued to be used in bed netting after this period. The average permethrin concentration in the milk samples was 79 mcg/kg of lipid; the median concentration was 55 mcg/kg of lipid (range 10 to 230 mcg/kg of lipid). The milk permethrin levels in all mothers were below the allowable daily limit for permethrin.
Breastmilk samples from mothers in Brazil, Colombia and Spain were analyzed for pyrethroids. Permethrin was detected in all samples, regardless of reported household usage. Samples from rural Brazil (n = 9) contained a mean permethrin concentration of 3.57 ng/gram of lipid. Samples from Sao Paulo (n = 8) contained a mean permethrin concentration of 0.36 ng/gram of lipid. Samples from Santiago de Cali, Colombia (n = 27) contained a mean permethrin concentration of 0.91 ng/gram of lipid. Samples from Barcelona, Spain (n = 6) contained a mean permethrin concentration of 2.2 ng/gram of lipid. Other pyrethroids were also detected, but estimated daily intakes by breastfed infants were all below acceptable daily intake limits.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
In a telephone follow-up study, 5 mothers who used permethrin during breastfeeding reported no adverse reactions in their breastfed infants.
Possible Effects on Lactation
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
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CAS Registry Number
- Antiinfective Agents
- Antiparasitic Agents
LactMed Record Number
Information from the National Library of Medicine's LactMed Database.
Last Revision Date
Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.