Benzyl Alcohol Topical
(ben' zil al' ka hol)
Benzyl alcohol topical is no longer available in the United States. If you are currently using benzyl alcohol topical, you should call your doctor to discuss switching to another treatment.
WHY is this medicine prescribed?
Benzyl alcohol lotion is used to treat head lice (small insects that attach themselves to the skin) in adults and children 6 months of age and older. It should not be used in children less than 6 months of age. Benzyl alcohol is in a class of medications called pediculicides. It works by killing the lice. Benzyl alcohol lotion will not kill lice eggs, so the medication must be used a second time to kill the lice that may hatch from these eggs.
HOW should this medicine be used?
Topical benzyl alcohol comes as a lotion to apply to the scalp and hair. It is usually applied to the scalp and hair in two or three treatments. The second treatment of benzyl alcohol lotion must be applied about one week after the first one. Sometimes a third treatment of benzyl alcohol lotion may be necessary. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use benzyl alcohol lotion exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor will prescribe a specific amount of benzyl alcohol lotion based on your hair length. Be sure to use enough lotion to cover all of your scalp area and hair.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient. Read these instructions carefully.
Benzyl alcohol lotion should only be used on the hair and scalp. Avoid getting benzyl alcohol lotion in your eyes.
If benzyl alcohol lotion gets in your eyes, flush them with water right away. If your eyes are still irritated after flushing with water, call your doctor or get medical help right away.
To use the lotion, follow these steps:
- Use a towel to cover your face and eyes. Be sure to keep your eyes closed during this treatment. You may need to have an adult help you apply the lotion.
- Apply benzyl alcohol lotion to dry hair and scalp area. You will also need to apply the lotion in the scalp areas behind your ears and at the back of your neck. Be sure to use enough lotion to cover the entire scalp area and all of the hair on your head.
- Keep the lotion on your hair and scalp for 10 minutes after you finish applying the lotion. You should use a timer or clock to track the time.
- After 10 minutes, rinse the lotion from your scalp and hair with water in a sink. You should not use a shower or bathtub to rinse the lotion away because you do not want to get the lotion over the rest of your body.
- You and anyone who helped you apply the lotion should wash your hands carefully after the application and rinsing steps.
- You may shampoo your hair after rinsing the lotion from your scalp and hair.
- A lice comb may also be used to remove the dead lice and nits (empty egg shells) after this treatment. You may also need to have an adult help you to do this.
- You will need to repeat this entire process in one week to kill the lice that hatch from eggs.
After using benzyl alcohol lotion, sanitize all the clothing, underwear, pajamas, hats, sheets, pillowcases, and towels you have used recently. These items should be washed in very hot water or dry-cleaned. You should also wash combs, brushes, hairs clips and other personal care items in hot water.
Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?
Before using benzyl alcohol lotion,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to benzyl alcohol, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in benzyl alcohol lotion. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any skin or other medical conditions.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using benzyl alcohol lotion, call your doctor.
What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?
It is important to apply benzyl alcohol lotion again one week after the first application. If you miss the second treatment, call your doctor.
What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?
Benzyl alcohol lotion may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- itching of the scalp area
- redness of the scalp area
- numbness or pain in the scalp area
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- irritation of the scalp area
- infected or pus filled areas of skin in the scalp area
Benzyl alcohol lotion may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not freeze.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?
If someone swallows benzyl alcohol lotion, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you feel you need additional treatment, call your doctor.
Lice are generally spread by close head-to-head contact or from items which come in contact with your head. Do not share combs, brushes, towels, pillows, hats, scarves, or hair accessories. Be sure to check everyone in your immediate family for head lice if another family member is being treated for lice.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: November 15, 2019.