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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 7, 2020.


(LIN dane)

Index Terms

  • Benzene Hexachloride
  • Gamma Benzene Hexachloride
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane
  • Kwell

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.

Shampoo, External:

Generic: 1% (60 mL)

Pharmacologic Category

  • Antiparasitic Agent, Topical
  • Pediculocide


Directly absorbed by parasites and ova through the exoskeleton; stimulates the nervous system resulting in seizures and death of parasitic arthropods


~10% systemically; absorption higher when applied to weeping or excoriated skin (Ginsburg, 1977)




Urine and feces

Time to Peak

Serum: Infants ≥5 months and Children: 6 hours

Half-Life Elimination

Infants ≥5 months and Children ≤8 years (Ginsburg 1977): Healthy skin: 21.4 hours; Infected skin: 17.9 hours

Use: Labeled Indications

Pediculosis capitis: Treatment of Pediculus capitis (head lice).

Pediculosis pubis: Treatment of Phthirus pubis (crab lice).

Note: Not recommended for first-line treatment; use should be reserved for patients who are intolerant to or have failed first-line agents.


Hypersensitivity to lindane or any component of the formulation; premature infants; uncontrolled seizure disorders; crusted (Norwegian) scabies or other skin conditions (eg, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis) which may increase systemic absorption

Dosing: Adult

Head lice, crab lice: Topical: Apply shampoo to dry hair and massage into hair for 4 minutes; add small quantities of water to hair until lather forms, then rinse hair thoroughly and comb with a fine tooth comb to remove nits. Amount of shampoo needed is based on length and density of hair; most patients will require 30 mL (maximum: 60 mL). Do not re-treat.

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Note: Although FDA approved, lindane is not recommended as a treatment option for head lice in pediatric patients <50 kg due to safety concerns (AAP [Devore 2015]; Red Book [AAP 2015]) and use should be avoided if possible. Alternative agents should be considered.

Head lice; second-line: Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Shampoo: Topical: Apply shampoo to dry hair and massage into hair for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add small amounts of water to form lather, then immediately rinse lather away, towel dry hair, and comb with a fine tooth comb to remove nits. Amount of shampoo needed is based on length and density of hair; most patients require ≤30 mL; maximum dose: 60 mL. Do not re-treat.


Topical: Shake well prior to use. For topical use only; never administer orally. Caregivers should apply with gloves (avoid natural latex, may be permeable to lindane). Rinse off with warm (not hot) water. Apply to clean, dry hair. Wait at least 1 hour after washing hair before applying lindane shampoo. Hair should be washed with a shampoo not containing a conditioner; hair and skin of head and neck should be free of any lotions, oils, or creams prior to lindane application. Do not cover with shower cap or towel. Rinse off with warm (not hot) water.


Store at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.

Frequency not defined.

Central nervous system: Ataxia, dizziness, localized burning, neurotoxicity (risk greater in patients <110 lbs [50 kg]), restlessness, seizure, stinging sensation

Dermatologic: Contact dermatitis, eczematous rash

Hematologic & oncologic: Aplastic anemia (CDC 2010)

<1%, postmarketing, and/or case reports: Alopecia, dermatitis, headache, pain, paresthesia, pruritus, urticaria

ALERT: U.S. Boxed Warning

Appropriate use:

Lindane should only be used in patients who cannot tolerate or have failed first-line treatment with safer medications for the treatment of lice. Instruct patients on the proper use of lindane, the amount to apply, how long to leave it on, and avoiding re-treatment. Inform patients that itching occurs after the successful killing of lice and is not necessarily an indication for re-treatment with lindane.

Neurologic toxicity:

Seizures and deaths have been reported following lindane use with repeat or prolonged application, but also in rare cases following a single application used according to directions. Lindane should be used with caution in infants, children, elderly patients, individuals with other skin conditions, and those who weigh <110 lbs (50 kg), as they may be at risk of serious neurotoxicity.


Lindane is contraindicated in premature infants and individuals with known uncontrolled seizure disorders.


Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Neurotoxicity: [US Boxed Warning]: May be associated with severe neurologic toxicities. Seizures and death have been reported with use (may occur with prolonged, repeated, or single use). Use is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled seizure disorders and in premature infants. Use with caution in infants, small children, the elderly, patients with other skin conditions, patients weighing <50 kg, or patients with a history of seizures, head trauma, or HIV infection; use caution with conditions which may increase risk of seizures or medications which decrease seizure threshold.

Disease-related concerns:

• Hepatic impairment: Use with caution in patients with hepatic impairment.

Special populations:

• Pediatric: [US Boxed Warning]: Use is contraindicated in premature infants; the skin of premature infants may be more permeable and their liver enzymes may not be fully developed when compared to full-term infants.

Other warnings/precautions:

• Appropriate use: [US Boxed Warning]: Not a drug of first choice; use only in patients who have failed or cannot tolerate first-line agents. Instruct patients on proper use, including the amount to apply, how long to leave on, and to avoid re-treatment. Itching may occur as a result of killing lice and does not necessarily indicate treatment failure or need for re-treatment. Because of the potential for systemic absorption and CNS side effects, lindane should be used with caution; consider permethrin or crotamiton agent first. Oil-based hair dressing may increase toxic potential. For external use only; avoid contact with face, eyes, mucous membranes, and urethral meatus. For treatment only; not to be used to prevent infestation. Should be used as a part of an overall lice management program.

Pregnancy Risk Factor C Pregnancy Considerations

Animal studies suggest possible neurologic abnormalities due to the increased susceptibility of drug and the immature central nervous system of the fetus. Lindane is lipophilic and may accumulate in the placenta. Use in pregnant women has been associated with neural tube defects and mental retardation (CDC [Workowski 2015]).

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

• It is used to treat lice.

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Dizziness

• Seizures

• Severe skin irritation

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine’s uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Further information

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