Wet combing four times more effective than chemical treatments for head lice

Fine combing of wet hair is far more effective than current over the counter chemical treatments for eliminating head lice, shows research published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) today.

Head lice are parasites that usually infest the scalps of school age children. Current treatments include over the counter insecticide products or fine tooth combing of wet hair using a specially developed “Bug Buster” kit. However, chemical resistance is a problem, while wet combing is unproved as a treatment.

The study involved 126 young people with head louse infestation: 56 were allocated to the Bug Buster kit and 70 to insecticide treatments. Presence of head lice was assessed 2-4 days after the end of treatment.

Questionnaires to determine compliance and satisfaction with treatment and to obtain background information were also completed.

The Bug Buster kit was four times more effective than chemical products for eliminating head lice (57% cure rate versus 13%), suggesting that the kit is a viable alternative to over the counter insecticide treatments, say the authors.

Some may consider that the cure rate of only 57% detected with the Bug Buster kit is still unacceptable and may not provide an efficient treatment against head lice. At present there are no readily available products that provide fully effective control of head lice, and there is an urgent need to identify safe, novel insecticides of proved efficacy, they conclude.

Contact:
Nigel Hill, Head Science Officer, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
Mobile: +44 (0)7715 417 150 or LSHTM Press Office: +44 (0)207 927 2073
Email: [email protected]

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