Hair Foundation
HAIR LIBRARY » Articles
Hair lice: Transmittal and Different Treatments

September 2011

Lice are tiny, wingless insects that live on human heads and feed on scalps. They lay up to 10 eggs per day and through a three-stage life cycle, have a 40 to 50-day life span. Once an infestation has been found, it needs to be treated immediately..

Behind the common cold, lice is the No. 2 reason why children miss school with an estimated 6 to 12 million U.S. head lice infestations occurring annually for childrenaged 3-to-11-years-old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common symptom of head lice is itching, which may not occur until four to six weeks after infestation.

To check for lice, check with a magnifying glass at the nape of the neck and behind the ears in a well-lit area

How Does Head Lice Occur?

Head lice can quickly spread directly head-to-head and less often by sharing hats, combs, brushes and other personal grooming items. Infestations don’t present any health risks but its greatest cost may be the social ones: children’s school absences and parents missed workdays to take care of their children.

“Head lice are a common problem that can affect anyone regardless of where they live. Historically, it’s been a time-consuming, frustrating problem for families and school officials. Multiple treatments may be required and due to many factors, the initial treatment is often ineffective,” said Dow Stough, MD, treasurer of the Hair Foundation Board of Trustees.

How Do You Treat Lice?

Over-the-counter and prescription products can treat lice through topical products including shampoos, alcohol-based products and/or a pill for the infestations. Parents will also need to nit pick or comb through children’s hair.

Remedies can take 7 to 10 days to work with treatments called pediculicides. Malathion 0.5%, is an effective prescription that doesn’t lose its efficacy over time and Lindane is recommended after all conventional treatments fail.

Both products have side effects and contain chemical properties including insecticides and carcinogens.

In August, prescription NATROBA Topical Solution™ entered the market. It is a potential game changer for its treatment time and the exclusion of harsh chemical properties.

This topical product has a single application and patients four years of age and older can use it. Safety in pediatric patients below the age of 4 years has not been established for these products.

After one 10-minute application, lice and any remaining eggs should be gone; however, the process may be repeated again one week later if live lice are seen.

Adults will no longer need to comb nits and social costs will decrease as childrenreturn to school sooner and parents miss less work.

“Natroba should change the way we currently treat head lice. There are clinics that provideservices to pick nits out of patients’ hair. Hopefully this will be a thing of the past as Natroba will eliminate the need for this," explained Stough.

Natroba is produced by ParaPRO, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on commercializing proprietary products for the pediatric market.

While there are many ways to treat lice, and Natroba is one of them, the Hair Foundations recommends that you speak to your pediatrician about alloptions available for the treatment of head lice. As parents and caregivers it is ultimately your decision so be sure to clearly communicate your personalpreference for OTC, prescription, shampooing, combing, time of treatment, organic methods or home-made treatments.