head lice (treatment for pregnant women)

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  • permethrin - this is contraindicated in pregnancy and therefore should not be used

  • malathion - although this is not specifically contraindicated, as an organophosphate the normal precautionary principle of prescribing in pregnancy should be applied and it is probably not indicated for head lice which are an antisocial infestation rather than a significant disease (1)

  • nit combing is the treatment of choice (1)

  • it is important to advise pregnant women to avoid 'natural' or 'herbal' head lice treatments. Many of their constituents have not been formally tested, and one in common use (rosemary oil) is known to cause premature abortion

The CKS website states that:

  • for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, treat head lice with wet combing or dimeticone 4% lotion (2)


Last reviewed 01/2018