Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent, traditionally against parasitic worms. It is mainly used in humans in the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness), but is also effective against other worm infestations (such as strongyloidiasis, ascariasis, trichuriasis, filariasis, and enterobiasis), and some epidermal parasitic skin diseases, including scabies.
Ivermectin, under the brand name Mectizan, is currently being used to help eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) in the Americas, and to stop transmission of lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis around the world. The disease is endemic in 30 African countries, six Latin American countries, and Yemen, according to studies conducted by the World Health Organization. The drug rapidly kills microfilariae, but not the adult worms. A single oral dose of ivermectin, taken annually for the 10- to 15-year lifespan of the adult worms, is all that is needed to protect the individual from onchocerciasis.
An Ivermectin cream called Soolantra has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of rosacea.
More recent evidence supports its use against parasitic arthropods and insects:
- Mites such as scabies: It is usually limited to cases that prove to be resistant to topical treatments or that present in an advanced state (such as Norwegian scabies). Bed Bugs
- Lice: Ivermectin lotion (0.5%) is FDA-approved for patients six months of age and older. After a single, 10-minute application of this formulation on dry hair, 78% of subjects were found to be free of lice after two weeks. This level of effectiveness is equivalent to other pediculicide treatments requiring two applications.
- Bed bugs: Early research shows that the drug kills bed bugs when taken by humans at normal doses. The drug enters the human bloodstream and if the bedbugs bite during that time, they will die in a few days.
- Ivermectin is contraindicated in children under the age of five, or those who weigh less than 15 kg (33 lb);
- and those who are breastfeeding, and have a hepatic or renal disease. Bed bugs.