The good news about medicine today is that there are dozens of products available to treat almost any condition. The bad news is that it’s hard to know which ones are effective and safe.

Kwell lotion is among the more toxic treatments on the market, so talk to your doctor about alternatives before deciding to use it.

What Is Kwell Lotion?

Kwell lotion is a formulation used primarily to treat scabies. The shampoo is used to combat head lice. Both products contain lindane.

What Is Lindane?

Lindane—gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane—is a neurotoxin that is used as a pesticide and to treat scabies mites and head lice in humans.

It was banned for pharmaceutical use on humans in California in 2002, and in March of 2009 the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill restricting the use of lindane to doctors’ offices.

The World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency both have classified lindane as moderately acutely toxic, and in 1987 it was classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

What is Scabies?

Scabies is caused by pinpoint-sized mites that burrow under your skin and lay eggs, making you break out in an itchy rash. These mites can be passed from person to person through contact or through sharing infected clothes or bedding. Since it takes four to six weeks after the mites burrow in for the rash to show up, tracing the cause of the infestation can be very difficult.

Because it is difficult to tell exactly what causes any itchy, red rash, it is best to get a professional diagnosis from your physician.

Kwell Lotion Side Effects

Lindane affects the liver, kidneys and nervous system of human beings. It passes through a nursing mother’s skin into her breast milk, so it should never be used by women who are breastfeeding. Lindane also is prohibited for children under 1 year old and adults who are elderly or who weigh less than 110 pounds.

The most commonly reported side effects of lindane are dryness, itching, rashes and burning sensations on the skin. More serious side effects include dizziness, headache, seizures and convulsions. At least one death has been attributed to its use in fighting mites.

Alternatives to Kwell Lotion

According to, topical scabicides containing 5 percent permethrin are much safer than lindane. Because scabies must be diagnosed by a doctor, you have an excellent opportunity to make sure you are prescribed the safest possible treatment.