Wet combing with conditioner

Some parents prefer to avoid any chemical treatments. In these instances, parents may wish to use a non-chemical approach, the most established of which is wet combing with conditioner. A number of devices are also available for use on dry hair only, which claim to electronically aid the removal of lice but evidence of effectiveness of these devices is generally absent and they may even present a safety risk.

BugBusting» method

  • There is evidence of limited effectiveness if the BugBusting regime is well adhered to, with eradication rates of between 38% and 57% reported
  • It is labour intensive and requires a high level of commitment on behalf of the parent or carer and co-operation from the child
  • It is recommended that, where parents wish to use this technique, the correct equipment, particularly the fine-tooth BugBusting comb, is used

Alternative remedies

Parental concerns over the use of chemical preparations to treat head lice are common and a number of products based on alternative approaches are currently on the market. Unfortunately many of the alternative products available lack an evidence base or product license on which to assess effectiveness. In addition, the safety of some alternative methods is unknown and there is the risk that safety problems could arise.

On the basis of the evidence available at the time of publication, two current treatments were recommended by the Stafford Report; dimeticone and malathion.

Application of the treatment

  • Treatment should only be applied if a living, moving louse has been found – never ‘just in case’
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure the treatment is left on for the recommended time
  • When applying treatment, cover the full length of the hair if specified in the treatment instructions
  • Keep the lotion out of the eyes and off the face – don’t use a hair dryer and keep away from flames, stoves, cigarettes and other sources of heat

Head lice protection

There are various home remedies that parents claim can repel head lice and prevent infection, but evidence to support how effective they are is very limited. A special, leave-in conditioning spray containing 1% octanediol is now available which is clinically proven to help protect against infections and works by breaking the life-cycle of the head lice and preventing them from breeding and migrating.

Treatment should only be applied
if a living, moving louse has been
found, never 'just in case'

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