Treatment of head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) infestation: Is regular combing alone with a special detection comb effective at all levels?

Abstract

Head lice infestation (HLI) caused by Pediculus humanus capitis has been a public health problem worldwide. Specially designed combs are used to identify head lice, while anti-lice products are applied on the scalp for treatment. In the present study, we aimed to test whether combing only by precision detection comb (PDC) or metal pin comb (MPC) could be effective alternatives to the use of anti-lice products in children. A total of 560 children from two rural schools in Turkey were screened. In the PDC trial, children were combed every second day for 14 days, while in the MPC trial, combing was performed once in every four days for 15 days. Children were divided into two groups (dry combing and wet combing) for both trials and results were compared. The results showed no significant differences between dry and wet combing strategies for both combs for the removal of head lice (p > 0.05). The number of adult head lice declined significantly on each subsequent combing day in both approaches, except on day 15 in the MPC trial. In the end, no louse was found in 54.1 and 48.9 % of children in the PDC and MPC trials, respectively. Since family members of infested children were not available, they were not checked for HLI. Four times combing within 2 weeks with MPC combs was found effective for both treatment of low HLI and prevention of heavy HLI. In conclusion, regular combing by special combs decreases HLI level in children and is safely applicable as long-term treatment.

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Acknowledgments

We cordially thank the authorities of the schools in Maldan and Osmancali. The combs used in the study were supplied by KSL Consulting, Denmark.

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Correspondence to Özgür Kurt.

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Kurt, Ö., Balcıoğlu, I.C., Limoncu, M.E. et al. Treatment of head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) infestation: Is regular combing alone with a special detection comb effective at all levels?. Parasitol Res 114, 1347–1353 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-015-4311-8

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Keywords

  • Head lice
  • Pediculus humanus capitis
  • Metal pin comb
  • Precision detection comb
  • Treatment