What is mebendazole?
Mebendazole is a type of anti-worm medication (an antihelminthic).
Mebendazole comes as a tablet that may be crushed and mixed with food or chewed after a meal.
What is mebendazole used for?
Generally, mebendazole is prescribed to fight infestations or infections caused by worms. It is effective for a variety of worm infections, such as:
- pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis)
- hookworms (Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanis)
- roundworms (Strongyloides stercoralis and others)
- tapeworms (Taenia solium)
- whipworms (Trichuris trichiura).
How effective is mebendazole?
Mebendazole is highly effective in clearing intestinal worm infections. The drug works by blocking the ability of adult worms to grow and acquire the necessary nutrients for survival. As a result, their digestive functions are disrupted, and the worms ultimately die.
One or several doses may be necessary depending on the type of worm infestation, its severity, and the risk of reinfection.
What are the side effects of mebendazole?
Mebendazole is generally well-tolerated. Patients with severe worm infestation may have diarrhoea, vomiting, or abdominal pain as the worms are killed and excreted. Other side effects may include drowsiness, itching, headache, and dizziness.
Although rare, there have been severe allergic reactions associated with mebendazole including anaphylaxis, urticaria, morbilliform eruption and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).
If you develop adverse reactions while on mebendazole, speak to your doctor as soon as possible and stop taking the drug.
Mebendazole is not recommended for use under 1 year of age.
Can I take mebendazole in pregnancy?
This drug is considered a Category B3 medication. This means its safety for use in pregnancy has not been established. It is best not to be used in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. However, your doctor will consider the best management option to maximize the potential benefit to you and minimize the possible risk to the fetus.
What precautions are necessary with mebendazole?
The dose of mebendazole may need to be adjusted in patients taking other medications or who have bowel or liver disease.
Discuss your treatment with your doctor.
If you are not based in New Zealand, we suggest you refer to your national drug approval agency for further information about medicines (eg, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration) or a national or state-approved formulary (eg, the New Zealand Formulary and New Zealand Formulary for Children and the British National Formulary and British National Formulary for Children).