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Healthy Children

with Steven Parker, MD

This blog is now retired. Dr. P passed away on Monday, April 13, 2009. The WebMD Community will dearly miss his kind, caring, and often humorous manner.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Got lice?

Dr. P’s Pediatric Journal Club

The study
133 patients with head lice were given a nontoxic lotion (Cetaphil cleanser) and instructed to:

  • Apply to the entire scalp. Leave in for 2 minutes, then comb out the excess.
  • Dry it with a hair dryer (to suffocate the lice).
  • Leave the dried lotion on the scalp for at least 8 hours.
  • Shampoo it all out.
  • Wash clothes and heat pillow cases, sheets, etc in the dryer for > 10 minutes.
  • Repeat once a week for up to 3 weeks.

What the study found
The overall long-term cure rate was 94-96%. (Removing the nits with a comb did not improve the success rate.)

What the study suggests
For people with head lice, slathering the scalp with Cetaphil and drying it (per the directions above) suffocates the lice and may be an effective new treatment.

Dr. P comments
Lice are pesky, loathsome critters and sometimes hard to eradicate. As a pediatrician, it’s nice be able to recommend that parents try a new, simple, inexpensive, and safe treatment.

Actually, there is an interesting story here. When this California dermatologist first published his results 16 months ago, he did not identify what the lotion was. In fact, he called it “Nuvo” and charged his patients $285 for the treatment at his dermatology office – $100 for the Nuvo lotion alone. (Cetaphil cleanser costs less than $10 for 16 ounces).

Only last month, in a letter to the journal Pediatrics, did he reveal the truth: his miracle lotion was plain old Cetaphil cleanser. We can all manage a pretty good guess (and it ain’t pretty) as to his motivation for keeping the nature of the lotion secret, but one has to wonder why he finally came clean.

Anyway, give it a try and let me know if you have success.


Articles cited:

A simple treatment for head lice: Dry-on, suffocation-based pediculicide.
Pearlman DL; Pediatrics. September, 2004.

Cetaphil cleanser (Nuvo lotion) cures head lice.
Pearlman DL. Pediatrics. December, 2005.

Related Topics:
A Better Treatment For Head Lice?, When to Keep Junior Home from Day Care

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Posted by: Steven Parker MD at 3:09 pm


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