Antiparasitic medications are drugs used to treat parasitic infections. Parasites are organisms that rely on other living things to survive. They live off their hosts and can cause serious damage if left untreated. Resistance to antimicrobial agents is an emerging threat in the treatment of parasitic infections; therefore, the use of different classes of antiparasitic agents is recommended. These drugs have a narrow spectrum of activity and are used for specific parasites.
To help healthcare professionals choosing the most appropriate antiparasitic agent, we have compiled this list with the top 7 antiparasitic medications:
Acticin is the first-line antiparasitic agent for head lice. It is also effective against scabies, a disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Acticin is also used for the treatment of tropical itching (pruritus tropicalis). Acticin is usually prescribed for 3 consecutive days for scabies and lice infestation. The most common side effects of this antiparasitic agent are skin irritation, burning sensation and itching.
Albendazole is used for the treatment of many parasitic infections, including giardiasis, hydatid disease, cysticercosis, and ascariasis. It is also used for the treatment of mixed infections with helminths and protozoa. Albendazole has a broad spectrum of activity and can kill both mature and immature parasites. It is effective against tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and flukes. Albendazole is available as tablets of 400 mg, and it can be taken with or without food. Albenza is a pregnancy category X drug. It should not be used by pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.
Chloroquine is a drug used for the treatment of various types of malaria. The two main types of malaria are caused by the species “Plasmodium vivax” and “Plasmodium falciparum”. Chloroquine can be used for treatment of vivax malaria but not for falciparum malaria. Chloroquine is usually given as a 3-day course for vivax malaria. For falciparum malaria, a combination of antimalarials is recommended. Chloroquine is contraindicated in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency as it can cause haemolytic anaemia.
Hydroxychloroquine is an antiparasitic agent used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, and psoriasis. Hydroxychloroquine can be used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia caused by hookworms. Hydroxychloroquine has a narrow spectrum of activity and is not effective against most protozoan parasites. However, it is used together with antifungal agents for the treatment of non-albendazole-resistant hydatid disease. Hydroxychloroquine is well tolerated and has low toxicity.
Lariam is an antiparasitic agent used for prophylaxis against malaria. Lariam is not effective against the falciparum species of the parasite. Lariam is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women and patients with a history of seizures. Lariam should be started two weeks before travelling to an endemic area and continued daily during and after travel. The most common side effect of lariam is abnormal dreams, which may persist for more than one month after the last dose of this antiparasitic agent.
Stromectol is an antiparasitic agent used for the treatment of strongyloidiasis, ascariasis, hookworm infection, and filariasis. It can also be used as a scabicide for lice infestation. Stromectol can be taken orally or as a single intramuscular injection for strongyloidiasis and ascariasis. It is given as a single oral dose for hookworm infection and filariasis. Stromectol has a narrow spectrum of activity and is not effective against the plasmodium parasites that cause malaria. Stromectol has low toxicity, and little information is available regarding its effects on the fetus.
Vermox is an antiparasitic agent used for the treatment of gastrointestinal helminths and some protozoan infections. Vermox can be used as a single dose for the treatment of pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) and threadworm (Strongyloides stercoralis). It can also be used for the treatment of ascariasis, hookworm infection, and trichuriasis. Vermox has a narrow spectrum of activity and is not effective against the plasmodium parasites that cause malaria. Vermox is well tolerated and has low toxicity.
Antiparasitic medications have a limited spectrum of activity and are used for specific parasites. These drugs are not effective against all parasitic infections and cannot be used interchangeably. Therefore, it is important for healthcare professionals to determine the causative organism before prescribing antiparasitic medications.