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General Practice 2023

Ivermectin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects

Table of contents:

Ivermectin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects
Ivermectin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug capable of paralyzing and promoting the elimination of various types of parasites, being mainly indicated for the treatment of onchocerciasis, elephantiasis, pediculosis (lice), ascariasis (roundworm) and scabies.

This remedy is suitable for adults and children over 5 years of age and can be found in pharmacies, it is important to consult a doctor regarding its use, as the dose may vary according to the infection to be treated and weight of the person.

It is important that the use of ivermectin is done according to the doctor's advice to avoid possible side effects, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, itchy skin and dizziness, for example.


What is it for

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug very indicated in the treatment of various diseases, such as:

  • Intestinal Strongyloidiasis,which is the infection caused by the parasite Strongyloides stercoralis;
  • Filariose, popularly known as elephantiasis;
  • Scabies, also called scabies;
  • Ascariasis, which is infection with the Ascaris lumbricoides parasite;
  • Pediculosis, which is lice infestation;
  • Onchocerciasis,popularly known as "river blindness".

It is important that the use of ivermectin is done according to the doctor's advice, as it is possible to prevent the appearance of side effects such as diarrhea, tiredness, stomach pain, weight loss, constipation and vomiting. In some cases, dizziness, drowsiness, vertigo, tremors and skin hives may also occur.

How to take it

The use of ivermectin should be done according to the doctor's advice, and it is usually recommended to take the drug with water on an empty stomach, one hour before the first meal of the day. Ivermectin is normally used in a single dose and the number of pills may vary according to the person's weight and the disease being treated.

Only one dose of the drug is capable of eliminating the parasites, however it is important that stool or blood tests are performed 2 weeks after the start of treatment, so that the doctor can assess the need to repeat the dosage.

In general, antiparasitics can be used once every 6 months, since the frequent use of this type of medication, especially when at short intervals, can increase the risk of adverse effects and the development of hepatitis medication, for example.

1. Strongyloidiasis, filariasis, roundworms, lice and scabies

To treat strongyloidiasis, filariasis, roundworms, lice infestation or scabies, the recommended dose should be adjusted for weight as follows:

Weight (in kg)

Number of pills (6 mg)

15 to 24

½ tablet

25 to 35

1 tablet

36 to 50

1 ½ tablet

51 to 65

2 tablets

66 to 79

2 ½ tablets

over 80

200 mcg per kg

2. Onchocerciasis

To treat onchocerciasis, the recommended dose, depending on weight, is as follows:

Weight (in kg)

Number of pills (6 mg)

15 to 25

½ tablet

26 to 44

1 tablet

45 to 64

1 ½ tablet

65 to 84

2 tablets

over 85

150 mcg per kg

Possible side effects

Some of the most common side effects that can occur during treatment with ivermectin are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, general weakness and lack of energy, abdominal pain, loss of appetite or constipation. These reactions are usually mild and short-lived.

Furthermore, allergic reactions can also occur, especially when taking ivermectin for onchocerciasis, which can manifest with abdominal pain, fever, body itching, red patches of skin, swelling of the eyes or eyelids, and conjunctivitis. If these symptoms appear, it is advisable to stop using the drug and seek medical help immediately or the nearest emergency room.

Can Ivermectin cause drug-induced hepatitis?

Although the drug leaflet does not mention serious side effects related to liver problems, such as drug-induced hepatitis, it is known that this drug can increase the presence of liver enzymes in blood tests.

Furthermore, this medication is only indicated in acute cases, for short-term treatment, and its effects on the body have not been studied at doses higher than recommended or for long periods.

Thus, it is possible that prolonged use, too frequent or in doses higher than those indicated, can cause liver problems, including drug hepatitis. The ideal is always to use ivermectin under the guidance of a doctor.

Who should not take it

This medicine is contraindicated for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children under 5 years old or 15 kg and patients with meningitis or asthma. In addition, it should not be used in people with hypersensitivity to ivermectin or any other components present in the formula.

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