IN THIS ISSUE of the Archives, Franz and colleagues1 report on the comparative percutaneous absorption of lindane and permethrin. They conclude that, for the treatment of scabies, 5% permethrin cream is at least 40 times less likely to cause toxic effects than 1% lindane lotion.
These authors correctly state that surprisingly little clinically relevant information has been published related to percutaneous absorption of permethrin in humans. In fact, permethrin is one of the most extensively studied pesticides ever developed, in terms of metabolism, toxic effects, and routes of administration, including percutaneous absorption, in both animals and humans.
Much has been published on the potential toxic effects of lindane in the central nervous system, and there is ample evidence that this pesticide is capable of producing damage to the central nervous system in humans. This is a rare occurrence when used as directed, but the potential for abuse or accidental
Meinking TL. Safety of Permethrin vs Lindane for the Treatment of Scabies. Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(8):959-962. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890320107016