Skip to main content


Generic name: malathion topicalMAL-a-THYE-on-TOP-i-kal ]
Drug class: Topical anti-infectives

Medically reviewed by on Jun 19, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is Ovide?

Malathion is used to treat head lice.

Malathion may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Ovide side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have severe stinging, burning, or irritation of your scalp that will not go away.

Less serious side effects may include mild stinging or scalp irritation.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Use only as directed. Tell your doctor if you use other medicines or have other medical conditions or allergies.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use malathion if you are allergic to it.

Not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 years old. Malathion should not be used in newborns and infants.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How should I use Ovide?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Do not take by mouth. Ovide is for use only on your scalp.

Read and follow all Instructions for Use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you need help.

Wash your hands after applying the medication.

Do not wet your hair or scalp before applying malathion. Apply enough lotion to completely soak your scalp, including the back of your head and your neck.

Wash off the medicine right away if it causes severe scalp irritation. Reapply at a later time, and call your doctor if irritation occurs again.

Do not use a curling iron, hair dryer, or other heat styler on treated hair. Warn children to stay away from open flames, lighted cigarettes, and electric heat sources while the hair is wet.

Shampoo your hair after 8 to 12 hours. Rinse hair thoroughly. Use a nit comb to remove lice eggs from the hair. Rinse the nit comb often during use.

Do not allow a child to use Ovide without help from an adult.

Wash all clothing, hats, bed clothes, bed linens, and towels in hot water and dry in high heat. Dry-clean any non-washable clothing. Hair brushes, combs, and hair accessories should be soaked in hot water.

Use this medicine again if you still see lice after 7 to 9 days.

Malathion lotion is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Do not smoke while applying this medicine. Avoid being near a lighted cigarette while your hair is still wet with malathion.

Store malathion at room temperature away from high heat, open flame, or electric heat sources.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Malathion is used as a single dose and does not have a daily dosing schedule. Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after using this medicine.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed Ovide.

What should I avoid while using Ovide?

Avoid getting this medicine in your eyes or on any skin other than your scalp. Rinse with water if this happens. Call your doctor at once if you have severe stinging, itching, or irritation of the eyes or skin after rinsing.

To prevent spreading lice, avoid head to head contact with others until your lice infection has cleared up. Avoid sharing hair brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, scarves, and pillows. Lice infections are highly contagious.

What other drugs will affect Ovide?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use, but many drugs can interact. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Popular FAQ

Aristada Initio (aripiprazole lauroxil 650 mg) is used as a long-acting, single intramuscular (IM) injection, with a single oral dose of aripiprazole, for adult patients starting or re-initiating treatment with Aristada to treat schizophrenia. Aristada Initio is not for repeat dosing. Aristada is the long-acting maintenance treatment form of aripiprazole lauroxil given by IM injection. Aristada is administered monthly, every 6 weeks, or every 8 weeks, depending on dose (441 mg, 662 mg, 882 mg or 1064 mg). The first Aristada injection may be administered on the same day as Aristada Initio or up to 10 days later. Aristada Initio is not interchangeable with Aristada due to differences in how these drugs act in the body.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.