Lindane is an antiparasitic active ingredient that was used in veterinary medicine in livestock and pets against external parasites (lice, mites, fleas, fliesticks, etc.). It was also used against agricultural and household pests. It belongs to the chemical class of the organochlorines. Nowadays it has been abandoned in most countries.

Common name: LINDANE

Other names: LINDANE, BHC, gamma-BHC, gamma-HCH, benzene hexachlorid
Type: pesticide
Chemical class: organochlorine


Molecular structure of LINDANE








Type of action: Broad spectrum contact, non systemic ectoparasiticide: insecticide, acaricide, tickicide, louisicide, larvicide
Main veterinary parasites controlled: flies, lice, fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, mites, fly maggots (cutaneous myiasis), etc.

Efficacy against a specific parasite depends on the delivery form and on the dose administered. National regulatory authorities determine whether a product is approved for a given indication, i.e. use on a particular host at a specific dose and against a specific parasite. Check the labels of the products available in your country.

Click here for general information on features and characteristics of PARASITICIDES.


Oral LD50, rat, acute*: 88-125 mg/kg
Dermal LD50, rat, acute*: 900-1000 mg/kg
* These values refer to the active ingredient. Toxicity has to be determined for each formulation as well. Formulations are usually significantly less toxic than the active ingredients.

MRL (maximum residue limit) set for animal tissues (e.g. beef, mutton pork or chicken)*:

  • CODEX: Yes (equal to or below limit of detection)
  • EU: Yes (equal to or below limit of detection, Annex II and Annex IIIb)
  • USA: No
  • AUS: Yes (equal to or below limit of detection)

* This information is an indicator of the acceptance of an active ingredient by the most influential regulatory bodies for use on livestock. MRL's for animal tissues may be set also for agricultural pesticides that are not approved for use on animals but are used on commodities fed to animals. A MRL may be also set in the form of an IMPORT TOLERANCE for active ingredients not approved in a particular country but approved for imported animal commodities.

Withholding periods for meat, milk, eggs, etc. depend on delivery form, dose and national regulations. Check the product label in your country.

General safety information for antiparasitics is available in specific articles in this site (click to visit):


Never use agricultural or hygiene products with this or any other active ingredient on livestock or pets, even if there are veterinary products with this same active ingredient approved for use on animals. The formulations for agricultural or hygiene use are different and may be toxic for livestock or pets.

It is obvious that veterinary products are not intended for and should never be used on humans!!!


Decade of introduction: 1940
Introduced by: ICI
Patent: Expired

Use in LIVESTOCK: No more, basically banned almost worldwide
Use in
DOGS and CATS: Yes, very scarce and declining

Main delivery forms:

Use in human medicine: Yes, still approved in a few countries
Use in
public/domestic hygiene: Yes, mainly for mosquito control in public hygiene
Use in
agriculture: Banned in most countries worldwide
Generics available: 


In livestock: Yes, as for all organophosphates: very frequent worldwide in such species as cattle ticks (Boophilus spp), horn flies (Haematobia irritans), sheep lice (Damalinia ovis), poultry mites (Dermanyssus gallinae), houseflies (Musca domestica), mosquitoes
In pets: Yes, quite frequent worldwide in dog and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides spp)


Lindane is an organochlorine pesticide that was vastly used against veterinary parasites in the 1960's to 1980s. It was used mainly in the form of concentrates for dipping and spraying livestock, as well as in shampoos, soaps, lotions and the like for dogs and cats.

Lindane is a broad-spectrum insecticide and acaricide, especially effective against scab and mange mites, as well as against lice. It is very lipophilic and after administration binds to the lipids in the hair-coat from where it is progressively released. It is rather mediocre against ticks and flies.

The problem with lindane is not acute toxicity, but as for all organochlorines, its persistence in the environment and its bioaccumulation in the food chain.  In fact, lindane is not too toxic for mammals.

It has also been classified as "possible" human carcinogen. Nevertheless, it is still approved in several countries as a human medicine against head lice (pediculosis).

Although it was known long ago that it bioaccumulates in the environment and in the food chain, its use on livestock remained allowed in many countries until the 1990's (e.g. Spain, France, etc.). In the meantime, use in livestock has been banned almost worldwide. In spite of the ban, lindane residues continue to be detected in milk and other food commodities in surveys in many countries. This is perhaps an indicator of illegal use, or of its extreme persistence in the environment, or both.

Lindane is still used in a few countries on pets.

Pharmacokinetics of lindane

Percutaneous absorption (i.e. through the skin) of topically administered lindane depends on the animal species, the administered dose, and the extension of the treated body surface. Lindane is easier absorbed through the skin than other pesticides. Animals treated topically can also ingest lindane through licking and grooming. Ingested lindane is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. The various isomers follow different metabolic pathways. All isomers are stored in body fat, but the gamma isomer is stored in a substantially larger rate than the other ones. Metabolism is rather fast, but excretion rather slow. About 80% of the administered dose is excreted through urine, the rest through feces.

Mechanism of action of lindane

Organochlorines, including lindane, act on the membrane of nerve cells blocking the closure of the ion gates of the sodium channel during re-polarization. This strongly disrupts the transmission of nervous impulses. At low concentrations insects suffer from hyperactivity. At high concentrations they are paralyzed and die. This toxic effect occurs not only on insects, but on many vertebrates as well, since the ion gates of the sodium channel in the cellular membranes of nerve cells work similarly in many living organisms.

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