A New Lotion Approved for Treatment of Head Lice: XeglyzeTM

pharmacists at the pharmacy giving information to patient
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new medication called XeglyzeTM (abametapir) to treat head lice. Let’s take a look at how XeglyzeTM may be useful for treating head lice!

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Head lice infestations affect about 6 to 12 million children in the United States every year. These insects are found all over the country and can infest anyone they come into contact with.

Treating head lice can also be a complicated process. What makes it so tricky is that it’s time-consuming and usually involves using both medications and non-drug methods. It’s even been reported that head lice are becoming resistant to common first-line treatments.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new medication called XeglyzeTM (abametapir) to treat head lice. Let’s take a look at how XeglyzeTM may be useful for treating head lice! 

What is Head Lice?

Head lice, also called pediculus humanus capitis, are small insects that live on the human scalp. Lice rely on human blood as their food source, where they grow and eventually lay eggs (also called nits) in the hair. Both lice and nits can “stick” to hair strands, making them difficult to remove. 

The most common way to get head lice is through direct head-to-head contact with someone who already has lice.

Head-to-head spreading is regularly seen in settings where children play in large groups: school, playgrounds, and sports activities. 

Head lice very uncomfortable to live with, making it difficult for children to have a normal, enjoyable day. Signs and symptoms of head lice include:

  • The feeling that something is moving in the hair 
  • Itching 
  • Difficulty sleeping at night 
  • Head sores caused by scratching – may become infected from bacteria typically found on human skin

How Does XeglyzeTM Work?  

XeglyzeTM is a lotion that belongs to a class of medications called pediculicides, meaning it kills lice. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called metalloproteinase, which is needed for lice to survive and for their eggs to develop. 

Two studies looked at using XeglyzeTM for treating head lice in patients ages six months and older. Both studies were set up the same way, and they compared XeglyzeTM lotion with a standard lotion without any XeglyzeTM in it. Patients in the XeglyzeTM group were significantly more likely to be free of live lice after 14 days of treatment. 

The results from both trials showed that using XeglyzeTM lotion was a useful option for treating head lice. 

How do I use XeglyzeTM?

XeglyzeTM lotion comes as a one-time use bottle. To make sure you are getting the most benefit from your medication, make sure to follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions. 

  1. Shake the bottle well before using 
  2. Apply XeglyzeTM to dry hair while massaging the lotion into the scalp and throughout the hair. 
  3. Leave the lotion on the hair and scalp for ten minutes and then rinse off with warm water 
  4. Wash hands when finished applying

It’s essential to include other components of lice management while using XeglyzeTM for treatment. These include: 

  1. Wash all recently worn clothing and garments 
  2. Wash personal care items like brushes and hair clips 
  3. Use a fine-tooth comb to remove dead lice and nits 

What are the Side Effects?

Reported side effects to look out for when taking XeglyzeTM are:

  • Rash
  • Skin burning sensation
  • Reddening of the skin 
  • Eye irritation 

The studies showed that while these side effects could happen, they didn’t occur very often. Make sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist if any of these side effects become too severe or affect your daily life. 

The Takeaway

Head lice is a common medical condition, especially among children, in the United States. With lice starting to show resistance to current first-line medications, additional therapies are needed to help patients manage this condition. 

XeglyzeTM is a recently approved lotion that can treat head lice. The research showed that XeglyzeTM was effective in killing lice after a one-time dose over 14 days. Make sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to manage head lice. 

Reference List

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head Lice: Epidemiology & Risk Factors. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/epi.html. Last Reviewed 2019. Accessed 20 September 2020.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head Lice: Treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/treatment.html. Last Reviewed 2019. Accessed 20 September 2020.
  3. Cummings C, Finlay JC, MacDonald NE. Head lice infestations: A clinical update. Paediatr Child Health. 2018;23(1):e18-e24. doi:10.1093/pch/pxx165
  4. Xeglyze (abametapir) [prescribing information]. Princeton, NJ: Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Inc; June 2020.
  5. Bowles VM, VanLuvanee LJ, Alsop H, et al. Clinical studies evaluating abametapir lotion, 0.74%, for the treatment of head louse infestation. Pediatr Dermatol. 2018;35(5):616-621. doi:10.1111/pde.13612

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