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No Summer Vacation for Head Lice

lice_nadine_cropHead lice, one of the most dreaded yet least dangerous children’s health concerns, is often associated with school outbreaks.  In fact, our research trial examining the safety and efficacy of a readily available, non-toxic therapy was conducted in collaboration with school nurses.  But head lice don’t take summer breaks, continuing to plague kids (and mostly parents) throughout the season, affecting summer camp participation and ruining family vacations. 

Head lice treatment is a big concern for parents.  The condition affects 6 -12 million people in the U.S. each year.  Though parents often try unproven home remedies like various oils and mayonnaise, more concerning is the widespread use of conventional treatments derived from pesticides.  With increasing concern about health ills resulting from pesticide toxicity along with growing lice resistance to these chemicals, parents and pediatricians have been searching for safer and more effective treatment options.

Enter dimethicone.  A colorless, odorless, non-toxic, silicone-based liquid that appears to combat lice by suffocation, literally “shrink-wrapping” each louse and interfering with breathing mechanisms.  As this therapy is mechanical and not chemical, lice should not be able to develop resistance, making dimethicone a sustainable solution.  Furthermore, dimethicone acts as a hair coating agent allowing for much easier combing-out of nits (lice eggs), the key to limiting the condition by preventing hatching of new live lice.  How effective is dimethicone?  In our study, we found that, remarkably, after only one day of treatment, 98.3 percent of children were lice-free.  Additionally, there were no reported serious adverse effects.  Children could return to school much sooner than in the past, avoiding unnecessary missed school days – and the same would apply to summer programs.

“Our Center’s mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health.  Lice are benign, so it never made any sense that the conventional treatment of pesticides could be exposing kids to something far worse than lice. That's why we conducted a clinical trial to find a safer, pesticide-free alternative that is effective at eliminating the lice without the potential to harm our children.” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.

Based on our study, building on preceding pediatric dimethicone trials demonstrating safety and efficacy, we believe this therapy should be considered first-line lice treatment versus pesticide-based treatments now typically recommended.

dr_rosen_bio_pic_3-6-14Lawrence Rosen, MD is an integrative pediatrician and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children. He is the founder of the Whole Child Center, one of the country’s first green and integrative pediatric practices, and he serves as Medical Advisor to The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.  Dr. Rosen’s academic credentials include positions as past Chair of the AAP Section on Integrative Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UMDNJ, and author of numerous articles and book chapters on integrative pediatrics. He is also the pediatric columnist for Kiwi Magazine and blogs for the Huffington Post. 

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