IVERMECTIN NOT APPROVED FOR COVID-19
Ivermectin is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat or prevent COVID-19. The FDA has issued a
warningabout the dangers of taking this drug in large doses or for unapproved uses. And it is not safe for humans to take medications meant for animals. (Ivermectin prescribed for animals is very different from ivermectin prescribed for humans.)
Do not take any prescription drug, including ivermectin, unless your doctor recommends that you do so. If you have questions about the use of ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19, talk with your doctor.
If you have certain infections caused by parasites, your doctor may prescribe ivermectin for your condition. It’s a generic prescription medication that’s used to treat the following in adults and some children:
For details about these uses of ivermectin, see the “What is ivermectin used for?” section below.
Ivermectin comes as an oral tablet, which is a tablet that you swallow. It also comes in topical forms. These are forms you apply to your skin, such as a lotion. The topical forms of ivermectin aren’t covered in this article.
Keep reading to learn more about ivermectin, including the drug’s side effects, uses, dosages, and more.
Ivermectin brand-name versions
Ivermectin tablet is a generic drug that also comes in a brand-name version called Stromectol.
Other forms of ivermectin have brand-name versions. For more information about the brand-name versions of ivermectin, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Ivermectin is a generic drug, which means it’s an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The brand-name medication that ivermectin is based on is called Stromectol.
Generic drugs are thought to be as safe and effective as the brand-name drug they’re based on. In general, generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.
If you’d like to know more about taking Stromectol instead of ivermectin, talk with your doctor. You can also explore this Healthline article to learn more about the differences between generic and brand-name drugs.
Like most drugs, ivermectin may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of ivermectin. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that ivermectin can cause. To learn about its other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read ivermectin’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of ivermectin that have been reported when used to treat strongyloidiasis in the intestines include:
- appetite loss
- belly pain
- feeling tired or weak
- itchy skin
- nausea and vomiting
- skin rash
- vertigo, which causes a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning
- mild allergic reaction*
Mild side effects of ivermectin that have been reported when used to treat onchocerciasis include:
- itchy skin
- joint pain or swelling
- mild eye problems, such as eyelid swelling or feeling like something’s in the eye
- muscle pain
- skin rash
- swelling, such as in the face, arms, or legs
- swollen, tender lymph nodes
- mild allergic reaction*
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from ivermectin can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from ivermectin, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of ivermectin that have been reported include:
- serious eye problems, such as vision loss
- serious nervous system problems, including extreme sleepiness, coma, confusion, and disorientation
- severe allergic reaction*
In rare cases, taking ivermectin can be fatal. If you have any concerns about the serious side effects of this drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to ivermectin. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Since ivermectin became available on the market, there have been rare reports of serious skin reactions from this drug. Examples include Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).
Early symptoms of SJS and TEN are similar to flu symptoms, including sore throat and cough. After about 1 to 3 days, symptoms often progress and become severe. They include a red or purple skin rash that spreads, darkening of skin color, and blistering on the eyes, skin, nose, mouth, or genitals.
If you have symptoms of severe skin reactions while taking ivermectin, immediately seek emergency medical attention. You’ll likely need hospital treatment.
Ivermectin is used to treat infections caused by certain parasitic worms (a treatment sometimes referred to as deworming). A parasite is an organism that lives within the body of another organism, called a host. Parasites obtain nutrients from their host. This can result in a lack of nutrients and other symptoms for the host.
Ivermectin is prescribed to treat the following parasitic infections:
For these purposes, ivermectin is used in adults and children who weigh at least 15 kilograms (kg). One kg equals about 2.2 pounds (lb), so 15 kg is about 33 lb.
The text below describes these conditions and how ivermectin treats them.
Ivermectin for strongyloidiasis in the intestinal tract
Strongyloidiasis is a kind of parasitic infection caused by Strongyloides stercoralis roundworms, which are mainly found in tropical and subtropical climates. Most cases of strongyloidiasis occur from people coming into contact with contaminated soil.
After infection, the roundworms eventually make their way into the small intestine. It’s at this stage that ivermectin may be used to treat the infection.
Strongyloidiasis often doesn’t cause symptoms, but symptoms that can occur include:
- burning or pain in the upper belly
- diarrhea, which may alternate with constipation
- skin rash
- weight loss
Ivermectin treats strongyloidiasis by killing the roundworms in the intestines.
Ivermectin for onchocerciasis
Onchocerciasis, often called river blindness, is a kind of parasitic infection that can affect the skin or eyes. It’s caused by the Onchocerca volvulus worm. The larvae of this worm are transmitted through bites from a certain kind of blackfly found in tropical areas.
In a person who has contracted this parasite, the larvae mature into adult worms in 6 to 12 months. These worms then produce more larvae. Symptoms of onchocerciasis occur when the larvae die.
Onchocerciasis often doesn’t cause symptoms at first, and it may take up to a year before any develop. Once symptoms do appear, they can be severe. Examples include:
- extreme itching affecting the eyes or skin
- thin, brittle skin
- changes in skin pigmentation (coloring)
- cataracts (cloudy areas that form in the lens of the eye)
- light sensitivity
- vision loss
- swelling in the lymph nodes
In rare cases, this condition may lead to blindness if left untreated.
Ivermectin treats onchocerciasis by stopping worms from releasing more larvae into the body.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of ivermectin that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strength
Ivermectin comes as an oral tablet, which is a tablet that you swallow. It comes in a strength of 3 milligrams (mg).
The recommended dosage for ivermectin depends on the specific parasitic infection you’re taking the drug to treat.
Note that the dosages below apply to adults and children. Ivermectin can be prescribed to children who weigh at least 15 kilograms (kg) or about 33 pounds (lb).
Dosage for strongyloidiasis in the intestinal tract
For treating strongyloidiasis in your intestinal tract, you’ll take one dose of ivermectin. The dose your doctor prescribes will depend on your body weight in kg. One kg equals about 2.2 lb.
You may not need additional doses. Your doctor will check your stool for any signs of remaining larvae. (They’ll likely order one test per month for the first 3 months after your ivermectin dose.) If larvae are still present in your stool, your doctor may recommend taking more ivermectin.
Dosage for onchocerciasis
For treating onchocerciasis, you’ll take one dose of ivermectin. You’ll probably need additional doses.
You may take your next dose as soon as 3 months after your first dose. But it’s more likely you’ll take your next dose 12 months after your first dose. Your doctor will give you more information on when you’ll need another round of treatment with ivermectin.
The ivermectin dose your doctor prescribes will depend on your body weight in kg.
To learn more about ivermectin’s dosage, see this article.
Questions about ivermectin’s dosage
Below are some common questions about ivermectin’s dosage.
- Will I need to use ivermectin long term? It depends on the kind of infection you’re taking ivermectin to treat. You may only need to take one dose. But some infections may require repeated doses to treat them fully.
- How long does ivermectin take to work? Ivermectin begins working as soon as you take your dose. But it may take some time before your symptoms start to ease. Your doctor can tell you when ivermectin should begin working based on your infection and the symptoms you have.
Find answers below to some commonly asked questions about ivermectin.
Is ivermectin used to treat cancer?
No, ivermectin isn’t used to treat cancer.
Currently, there aren’t any studies on the effectiveness of ivermectin as a treatment for cancer. Scientists are looking into whether ivermectin could be used for treating cancer. But the research is still at a very early stage.
For more information about cancer treatments, talk with your doctor.
Is rosacea a side effect of ivermectin?
No, rosacea isn’t a side effect of ivermectin. Rosacea is a skin condition that causes visible blood vessels and flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color) in the face. Studies of the drug didn’t report this as a side effect.
It’s thought that people with rosacea may have a larger than usual number of Demodex mites. These are tiny organisms that live near hair follicles on mammals, including humans. When these mites die, they release chemicals that may cause symptoms of rosacea.
Ivermectin treats specific parasitic infections by killing the parasites. When the parasites die, they can release chemicals that cause certain side effects. These side effects can include swelling in the face and itching, which are also side effects of rosacea.
To find out more about rosacea, talk with your doctor.
Does ivermectin cause any kidney-related side effects?
No, kidney-related side effects weren’t reported in studies of ivermectin.
Kidney problems can occur after treating loiasis, an infection caused by the parasitic worm Loa loa. Sometimes ivermectin is used to treat this infection. In such cases, it can seem as if ivermectin is causing kidney damage or other kidney-related side effects.
If you have concerns about kidney-related side effects and medications you take, talk with your doctor.
Can ivermectin be used to treat scabies?
The FDA has not approved ivermectin to treat scabies. But doctors may prescribe it for this use. This is an example of off-label use. With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what the FDA has approved it for.
For more information about treatments for scabies and whether ivermectin could be used for your symptoms, talk with your doctor.
Is ivermectin for humans the same drug that’s used for animals?
No, ivermectin for humans is not the same as ivermectin for animals. It’s very important that you do not take ivermectin intended for animals.
Ivermectin may be prescribed as a deworming agent for treating parasitic infections in animals, such as heartworm.
Some people have tried using ivermectin, including forms prescribed for animals, to treat or prevent COVID-19. Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for this use. There have been
Overdosing with any ivermectin product, including those for animal use, can result in serious side effects. For more information, see the “What should be done in case of overdose?” section below.
Before beginning treatment with ivermectin, there are important considerations you should discuss with your doctor. These are described below.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking ivermectin, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter kinds. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with ivermectin.
For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Warnings” section below.
There currently aren’t any medications or supplements known to interact with ivermectin. But this doesn’t mean drug interactions with ivermectin won’t be recognized in the future. For example, new medications may be approved that interact with ivermectin.
For this reason, you should still tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you take besides ivermectin. This way, they can check for any new interactions during your treatment.
Ivermectin can sometimes cause harmful effects in people who have certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether ivermectin is the right treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take ivermectin. Factors to consider include those described below.
Immune system conditions. Ivermectin may not work as well as it should in people with certain conditions that lower immune system activity. An example is HIV. If you have any immune system conditions, tell your doctor before taking ivermectin. They may recommend additional doses of the drug to treat your condition.
Liver problems. In rare cases, ivermectin can cause liver problems. The risk of this side effect may be higher if you already have liver problems. Tell your doctor about any liver problems you have before starting ivermectin treatment. They can discuss whether ivermectin is safe to take for your condition.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to ivermectin or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe ivermectin. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Ivermectin and alcohol
There’s no known interaction between ivermectin and alcohol. In addition, you may only need to take one dose of ivermectin to treat your condition. It’s not a drug you’ll take every day or for a long time.
But drinking alcohol while taking ivermectin can worsen certain side effects, such as:
- nausea and vomiting
If you drink alcohol and have questions about consuming it during ivermectin treatment, talk with your doctor.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
According to ivermectin’s prescribing information, you should not use ivermectin during pregnancy. There haven’t been studies to determine whether the drug is safe to use in someone who’s pregnant. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
Ivermectin can pass into breast milk in small amounts, possibly causing side effects in breastfed children. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, tell your doctor before you take ivermectin. They’ll discuss the risks and benefits of breastfeeding during treatment. If you’re prescribed ivermectin, they can suggest safe ways to feed your child.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about ivermectin and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will ivermectin affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
The cost of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
These websites also offer tools to help you find low cost healthcare and certain educational resources. To learn more, visit their websites.
Do not take more ivermectin than your doctor prescribes. Taking more than this can lead to serious side effects.
Note: It is not safe to take forms of ivermectin prescribed for animals.
Symptoms caused by an overdose can include:
In rare cases, ivermectin overdose can be fatal.
Additional symptoms have been reported in people who have used too much ivermectin meant for animals. These include:
- skin rash
- nausea and vomiting
- problems with coordination and balance
- shortness of breath
What to do in case you take too much ivermectin
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much ivermectin. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.
Your doctor will explain how you should take ivermectin. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Ivermectin comes as an oral tablet, which is a tablet that you swallow. You should take your dose on an empty stomach with a full glass of water.
Accessible medication containers and labels
If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Also, if you’re having trouble opening your medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to put ivermectin in an easy-open container. Your pharmacist may also recommend tools to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
Questions about taking ivermectin
Below are some common questions about taking ivermectin.
- Can ivermectin be chewed, crushed, or split? The drugmaker doesn’t provide information on whether ivermectin tablets can be chewed, crushed, or split. It’s recommended that you swallow the tablets whole. Check out these tips if you’re having trouble swallowing pills. Your pharmacist or doctor can also suggest ways to make taking your dose easier.
- Should I take ivermectin with food? No, you should take your ivermectin dose on an empty stomach.
Your doctor may suggest treatment with ivermectin if you have certain parasitic infections. Before beginning treatment, talk with your doctor to learn more about ivermectin and your condition. Asking questions can help you feel more comfortable with your treatment options.
Questions you may want to ask your doctor include:
- How will you determine whether I need another round of treatment with ivermectin?
- If I’m unable to take ivermectin, what other treatments are available for my condition?
- Do any of my medications or health conditions make it unsafe for me to take ivermectin?
To learn more about ivermectin, see these articles:
- Ivermectin and Cost: What You Need to Know
- Side Effects of Ivermectin Oral Tablet: What You Need to Know
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.