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Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages

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An anti-louse shampoo (Licener®) based on a neem seed extract was tested in vivo and in vitro on its efficacy to eliminate head louse infestation by a single treatment. The hair of 12 children being selected from a larger group due to their intense infestation with head lice were incubated for 10 min with the neem seed extract-containing shampoo. It was found that after this short exposition period, none of the lice had survived, when being observed for 22 h. In all cases, more than 50–70 dead lice had been combed down from each head after the shampoo had been washed out with normal tap water. A second group of eight children had been treated for 20 min with identical results. Intense combing of the volunteers 7 days after the treatment did not result in the finding of any motile louse neither in the 10-min treated group nor in the group the hair of which had been treated for 20 min. Other living head lice were in vitro incubated within the undiluted product (being placed inside little baskets the floor of which consisted of a fine net of gauze). It was seen that a total submersion for only 3 min prior to washing 3× for 2 min with tap water was sufficient to kill all motile stages (larvae and adults). The incubation of nits at 30°C into the undiluted product for 3, 10, and 20 min did not show differences. In all cases, there was no eyespot development or hatching larvae within 7–10 days of observation. This and the fact that the hair of treated children (even in the short-time treated group of only 10 min) did not reveal freshly hatched larval stages of lice indicate that there is an ovicidal activity of the product, too.

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Hereby we gratefully acknowledge the support of the Center of Excellence of the College of Science of the King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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Correspondence to Heinz Mehlhorn.

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Abdel-Ghaffar, F., Al-Quraishy, S., Al-Rasheid, K.A.S. et al. Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages. Parasitol Res 110, 277–280 (2012).

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