Benzyl Alcohol: Chemical Formula, Presentation, Indications, Mechanism of Action, Dosage and Side Effects

It is a colorless liquid with a pungent taste and a slight odor.

It is a topical agent of the scabicide and pediculicide type. This medicine is used to treat lice , the tiny insects that live and irritate the scalp.

Benzyl alcohol is an aromatic alcohol that is used as a preservative, as an active ingredient in the treatment of lice, and as a solvent.

Chemical formula

  • C7H8O.


  • In 5% topical solution.


It is used as a local anesthetic and to reduce pain associated with lidocaine injection.

In addition, it is used in the manufacture of other benzyl compounds, as a pharmaceutical aid, and in perfumery and flavoring.

Benzyl alcohol is a prescription medicine for the skin, used as an antiparasitic.

Benzyl alcohol topical is used to treat head lice in people between the ages of 6 months and 60 years.

Mechanism of action

The mechanism of action of benzyl alcohol prevents the lice from closing their respiratory spiracles, which in turn allows the lotion to clog the spiracles and cause the lice to suffocate on the head.


Apply lotion to dry hair, use enough to completely saturate hair and scalp, rinse with water after a few minutes.

Due to the mechanism of action of benzyl alcohol, lice are less likely to develop resistance to the drug.

Since benzyl alcohol does not kill lice eggs, a second treatment is necessary, one week after the first.

Side effects

Benzyl alcohol can cause irritation, itching, redness, tingling, or numbness at the application site.

Eye irritation can occur if the medicine gets into the eyes.

Although unlikely with topical application, intravenous products containing benzyl alcohol have been associated with neonatal gag syndrome, with manifestations including shortness of breath, metabolic acidosis, and hypotension.

As a result of the risk of neonatal gag syndrome, this drug should not be administered to infants younger than 6 months.

Serious allergic reactions to this drug are rare.

However, urgent medical attention should be sought if any symptoms occur, including: rash, itching, swelling, especially of the face, tongue and throat, severe dizziness and shortness of breath may also occur.

Warnings and Contraindications

Before using benzyl alcohol, you should inform your doctor if you are allergic to this drug or any of its components, or if you have any other allergies.

Constant or forceful scratching of the skin / scalp can lead to a bacterial skin infection. Tell your doctor right away if you develop worsening redness or pus.

Children are more sensitive to the side effects of the medicine.

In cases of premature babies, the doctor should be told so that he can decide if the baby is old enough to use this medicine.


This medicine contains benzyl alcohol.

It must be kept out of the reach of children. In cases of overdose, see a doctor immediately.


  • This medicine is not ovicidal, that is, it does not kill the eggs.
  • May cause contact dermatitis.
  • It should not be administered to newborns.
  • Eye exposure should be avoided.
  • The use in children should be done under the supervision of an adult.
  • The safety of the lotion has not been established in patients older than 60 years.
  • Gasping syndrome has been reported when used in neonates.
  • If the condition does not improve within 7 days or swelling or rash develops, the doctor should be notified.
  • Benzyl alcohol can be used during pregnancy.
  • Animal studies show no risk, but human studies are not available or did not show any risk.

However, during pregnancy, this drug should be used only when clearly necessary and the risk-benefit ratio is favorable for the baby and the mother.

The excretion of benzyl alcohol in human milk is unknown.

Benzyl alcohol should be used with caution if you are breastfeeding.


The doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or control interactions by changing the way medicines are given.