New head louse treatment shows promise

The common head louse has been seen to be resistant to time-tested treatments. However a new Food and Drug Administration-approved hair rinse, Natroba, could put an end to that.

“I expect it [Natroba] will be more effective than products in which geographic resistance patterns have been well established in the U.S.,” Shirley Gordon, director of the Head Lice Treatment and Prevention Project at Florida Atlantic University, said.

Natroba is a prescription treatment which contains the active ingredient spinosad, was approved in January and went on sale in August. In clinical trials, 84 percent of patients were free of lice in 14 days. Just 44 percent of those who used similar products saw the same results. Unlike older products, Natroba doesn't require tedious combing of lice eggs.

Spinosad causes the head louse to shake and exhaust itself to death. Natroba costs the average family about $36 when covered by insurance, or $219 without coverage. Meanwhile, a family pack of Nix lice treatment sells for about $15. Experts said less-expensive over-the-counter treatments, such as Nix, which uses the ingredient permethrin, should still be families' first defense.

Barbara Frankowski, pediatrician and author of the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on lice, also recommended a treatment of petroleum jelly or Cetaphil for three weeks with nightly comb-outs. “Tedious and time consuming, but doable,” she said. If non-prescription techniques do fail, then Frankowski says a pediatrician can prescribe a product such as Ulesfia, Ovide, or Natroba. But that could cost you.

Dermatologist Dow Stough who performed clinical trials of Natroba said, “We took families that had heavy infestations of head lice and we were clearing these kids, and some adults, with one treatment….I was like, wow, they really have something.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Pediculosis Assoc Pediculosis Assoc United States says:

    FDA warns Parapro on claims for Natroba including the way their video news release "entirely omits all risk information, including the warning and precaution regarding benzyl alcohol toxicity and the most frequently reported adverse events from the PI. By omitting the most serious and frequently occurring risks associated with the drug, the VNR misleadingly suggests that Natroba is safer than has been demonstrated."

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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