Friday, August 12, 2005

Headlice treatment: Putting our heads together!

A few days back I had a doctor walk into my clinic with their 2 daughters aged 7 months and 3 years sufferring from head lice.
I was not very sure as to the best possible treatment for the 7 month old kid and thought to surf the net to find the best and the safest treatment for head lice.
Here is what I found, a very recent article (BMJ Aug 2005) suggests that the best treatment for headlice may infact be what our mothers used to do with us ... wet hair combing with a fine tooth comb! Regular use of this technique (four times over 2 weeks) on conditioned hair (with a hair conditioner) had almost 60 % chances of curing head lice. This compared well with various chemical treatments wherein the cure rate was a very poor 20 % only!
In India, the most well advertised product is probably a shampoo (MEDIKER) , that contains 0.23 % premthrin. This may be safe for small children (even 6 months old) however according to studies it is unlikely to be very effective.
What would be more useful would be 10 minutes application of a 1 % permethrin lotion (like SCABPER by Shalaks) after washing and shampooing the hair. This should be repeated once after 6 days for better results. In case of resistant lice, I would still go the grandmother way and ask for the wet hair and fine tooth comb treatment !
The products mentioned in the above discussion are in NO way endorsed by Dr. Gaurav Gupta. There maybe similar products of equal or better efficacy. Dr. Gaurav has no financial interests in any of the above products.