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Comparative Percutaneous Absorption of Lindane and Permethrin

Thomas J. Franz, MD; Paul A. Lehman, MS; Susan F. Franz; Jere D. Guin, MD
Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(8):901-905. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890320049007.
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Background and Design:  Because of the concern for potential neurotoxic effects (central nervous system excitation, convulsions) in the treatment of scabies using 1% lindane lotion, 5% permethrin cream has been suggested as an alternative scabicide. Using the finite dose technique, in vitro percutaneous absorption of 5% permethrin cream or 1% lindane lotion was measured in human and guinea pig skin following a single application. In vivo blood and brain levels of the scabicides were measured in guinea pigs following three daily applications of 5% permethrin cream or 1% lindane lotion. Permethrin and lindane levels were quantified by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy.

Results:  In vitro percutaneous absorption of the two scabicides was identical in guinea pig skin; however, human skin was 20-fold more permeable to lindane than to permethrin. In vivo guinea pig blood and brain levels of lindane were fourfold greater than permethrin levels.

Conclusion:  The risk for toxic effects, as assessed by systemic exposure during overuse conditions, is projected to be 40 to 400 times lower for 5% permethrin cream than for 1% lindane lotion.Arch Dermatol. 1996;132:901-905


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