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June 1999

Ivermectin: A New Therapeutic Weapon in Dermatology?

Author Affiliations

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Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(6):705-706. doi:10.1001/archderm.135.6.705

IVERMECTIN IS a semisynthetic derivative of a family of macrocyclic lactones: the avermectins. These compounds have an antiparasitic effect, inducing paralysis in arthropods and nematodes by interruption of γ-aminobutyric acid–induced neurotransmission.1 This drug has been used extensively for the control of a wide variety of parasites in farm and domestic animals.1,2 In humans, ivermectin has been used extensively since 1987 to control onchocerciasis in countries of Africa and Latin America, where the disease is endemic. The drug is also effective in the treatment of other filariases such as loiasis and bancroftian filariasis and other intestinal nematodes, mainly strongyloidiasis.2 The interest of dermatologists in ivermectin grew as it became evident that some parasitic infections in humans with cutaneous tropism could easily and successfully be treated with the drug either orally or topically.3 Indeed the most promising results have been shown in the treatment of cutaneous parasitosis caused by nematodes such as cutaneous larva currens,4 cutaneous larva migrans,5-9 and human ectoparasitosis, mainly head lice10-13 and scabies.14-35

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