Benzyl Benzoate

Overview

Benzyl benzoate is used in the treatment of scabies and lice infestations of the skin.

Scabies is a common and extremely itchy skin condition that is caused by human scabies mites. The tiny mites can affect both adults and children, but the condition is most commonly seen in the very young and the elderly. Scabies mites are usually contracted through direct contact between people, although in rare cases they can be picked up from bedding or clothing. Pets do not carry or spread scabies. Scabies can persist for many months and even for years if it is not treated. However, prompt treatment with benzyl benzoate usually resolves the problem very quickly and completely.

Lice are tiny parasitic insects that feed on human blood. The pests can infest the body, head, and pubic areas. Lice are usually spread through close contact between people, typically in areas of overcrowding and poor hygiene. Humans are the louse’s only host and the insects cannot be spread by pets. Although lice can affect both adults and children, they are more commonly seen on children, probably because of close contact with their classmates at school.

Benzyl benzoate treatments work by passing into the lice or scabies mites through absorption into their bodies, killing them by disrupting their nervous systems. Benzyl benzoate is effective on the insects’ eggs, as well as on the adults and larval stages of the pests.

Although your doctor may prescribe you benzyl benzoate if you attend for treatment, you can also buy this medication over the counter. Benzyl benzoate is available as a soap, an emulsion, or as a lotion.

Conditions treated

  • scabies
  • lice

Type of medicine

  • scabicide
  • benzoic acid
  • lotion
  • soap
  • emulsion

Side effects

In addition to its desired effects, benzyl benzoate can sometimes cause a few side effects in some users. Not all the side effects that are mentioned below will happen to you, but you may need medical attention if you do experience them. In the event that you do suffer any of the side effects mentioned, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Despite being available without a prescription, this medication is quite powerful. The most commonly experienced side effect of this drug is a burning or itching sensation on the skin at the application site. This effect may resolve itself after a day or so, as your body gets used to the drug. However, if using this medication continues to be problematic, consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice on any alternative treatments that may be available.

It is possible in rare cases to overdose with benzyl benzoate. If you begin to find difficulty in urinating (reduced flow or dribbling), if your movements become noticeably jerky, or if you suddenly lose consciousness, you may have used too much of the medication. Other signs of overdose with this drug include effects seen at the site of application:

  • blisters
  • crusting
  • itching
  • reddening
  • oozing
  • scaly skin

You may experience other strange or unusual effects not listed above when you have been treated with this medication. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor for advice.

Dosage

Benzyl benzoate is sold with a patient information leaflet giving details on how to use and apply the product. Be sure to read the instructions thoroughly before using the medication.

You should only use the medication in accordance with the instructions supplied with the product. You should not use more of the medication than is recommended in the guidelines. If you use too much of this medication, the likelihood that it could be absorbed through the skin and consequent unpleasant side effects is increased.

When using this mediation, keep it well away from your eyes and the inside of your nose where it may cause irritation. In the event that you accidentally get the medicine in your eyes, you should immediately wash them thoroughly with clean water or flush them using an eye bath.

Never use benzyl benzoate on damaged, broken, or very spotty skin, including on your scalp. To do so would allow the product to be absorbed into the body, increasing the likelihood of side effects.

These infestations are spread easily from person to person. If you have lice or scabies, all other members of your household who are in physical contact may be at risk of contracting the condition, as are any sexual partners that you have.

For the treatment of lice

Adults: just one dose required, unless severe when treatment should be repeated two or three more times. Allow 24 hours between treatments.

Infants: use once only, diluted with three parts water.

Older children: use only once, diluted with an equal quantity of water.

  • Wash your hair thoroughly to get rid of any residual shampoo, ointment, conditioner, lotion, cream, or oil-based products. Dry your hair and scalp thoroughly before you apply the medication.
  • Apply enough of the product to thoroughly wet your hair, scalp, or skin.
  • Leave the product on the affect areas for 24 hours.
  • Wash the treated areas thoroughly with warm water and unperfumed soap or your usual shampoo. Rinse away all the soap or shampoo completely with clean water.
  • Dry your hair and skin with a clean towel.
  • Now, take a nit comb (you can obtain one of these from your chemist). Comb carefully through your hair, making sure that you remove any remaining nits or other nit debris from your hair. If your hair is very fine, you may be able to use tweezers for this job.

For the treatment of scabies

Adults: just one dose is required, unless severe, in which case treatment should be repeated once more. Allow 24 hours between treatments and re-treat within five days.

Infants: use once only, diluted with three parts water.

Older children: use only once, diluted with an equal quantity of water.

  • Wash your skin thoroughly to remove any lotion, cream, ointment, or oil-based products. Dry your skin thoroughly before you apply the medication.
  • Apply the product so that the whole surface of the skin is covered from the neck down, including the soles of the feet. Rub the product in thoroughly.
  • Leave the product on the affect areas for 24 hours.
  • Wash the treated areas thoroughly with warm water and unperfumed soap.
  • Rinse away all the soap or shampoo completely with clean water.
  • Dry your hair and skin with a clean towel.

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly following treatment.

You may need repeated treatments if the infestation is severe.

Major drug interactions

Some drugs should not be used together, as to do so can change how the medications work. The risk of serious side effects could also be increased. However, sometimes it may be appropriate to use two or more different products, despite interactions. In these circumstances, your doctor may opt to change the dose of one of your medications. Alternatively, your doctor may suggest some ways of managing any side effects that are caused by the interactions.

There are no listings of any drugs that cause serious interactions with benzyl benzoate.

Warnings

There is no evidence that benzyl benzoate presents a risk to nursing infants. However, you should discuss this with your doctor and weigh the potential benefits against the risks of using this medication if you are breastfeeding. Using benzyl benzoate is not known to present a danger to unborn babies.

Before you begin using this medication, be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever experienced any unusual allergic reactions to benzyl benzoate or to any other prescription or over-the-counter medications. You should also mention any allergies that you have to dyes, food preservatives, animal derivatives, or certain types of foodstuffs. If you are unsure if you may be allergic to a constituent of this product, ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Patients with a history of severe skin inflammatory conditions should not use benzyl benzoate, as this could make their condition worse.

Lice and scabies mites are intolerant to heat. In order to prevent reinfection or transmission of scabies or lice infestation to others in your home, you should take the following precautions:

For lice infestations

All items that are used on the hair, such as combs, brushes, and curlers should be washed or disinfected in very hot water for at least 10 minutes after use. Combs and brushes should not be shared among other members of your household.

All used bed linen, clothing, and towels should be washed in hot water, and then dried in a hot dryer for a minimum of 20 minutes. Any articles that are not suitable for washing in hot water should be dry-cleaned, placed in a hot dryer, or pressed with a hot iron.

Soft toys and other items that are non-washable should be placed in a plastic bag, sealed, and set aside for at least two weeks. Alternatively, these items can be placed in sealed bags and put in a freezer for between 12 and 24 hours.

All mattresses, rugs, furniture, pillows, and car seats that may have come into contact with hair that could contain lice should be thoroughly vacuumed.

For scabies infestations

Further scabies infestations can be prevented by washing all recently worn underwear, nightwear, bedding, and towels in very hot water. Alternatively, have these items dry-cleaned or place them in a hot dryer for at least 15 minutes.

Storage

Benzyl benzoate should be stored at room temperature. Do not refrigerate or freeze the medication. Do not expose the medication to sources of heat or place it where it could be in direct sunlight.

Always keep this medication safely out of reach of children or pets. If a pet does consume the drug, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do not use any medicine that has passed its use-by date. Do not tip your unused medication down the toilet or into the drain. Do not discard unused benzyl benzoate in your trash can where it could be found and touched or eaten by children or pets.

Summary

Benzyl benzoate is used in the treatment of scabies and lice infestations of the skin.

The medication works by passing into the lice or scabies mites via absorption into their bodies, effectively killing them through disruption of their nervous systems. Benzyl benzoate destroys the insects’ eggs, as well as killing the adults and the larval stages of the pests.

Benzyl benzoate may be prescribed to you by your doctor if you attend for treatment, but you can also buy this medication over the counter. Benzyl benzoate is available as a soap, an emulsion, or as a lotion.

A usual side effect of this drug that is experienced by some patients is a burning or itching sensation in the skin of the application site. This effect may resolve itself after a day or so, as your body gets used to the drug. More serious effects can occur if too much of the medication is used, so patients should always adhere closely to the dosage directions given on the product package or by their doctor.

People who have a history of severe skin inflammatory conditions should not use benzyl benzoate, as this drug can make such conditions worse.

Once the lice or scabies infestation has been cleared up, all clothing and bedding should be washed on a hot wash, dry cleaned or placed in a very hot dryer. The heat will quickly kill any remaining eggs, adults, and larvae.

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