Dog worm pill kills head lice16th March 2010
A pill that is usually used to prevent dogs from getting heart worm is equally potent as a head-lice killer, according to a recent French study.
The pill fared better than the lotions which are usually prescribed by doctors, especially when the head-lice had already become resistant to standard treatments.
Ivermectin, the heartworm pill, even fared better than malathion, which is a powerful pesticide.
For the purposes of the study, the French team surveyed 812 people from the UK, Ireland, France, and Israel, all of whom were infected with head-lice.
Unlike previous methods, the drug poisons lice by circulating through the bloodstream.
Pediatrician Gabrielle Gold-von Simson said that lice feeding on humans who have taken ivermectin have to feed on their host about six times a day in order for the medication to work.
The people who took part in the study came from a total of 376 households, and all of them had already tried using pesticide lotions.
In order to be certain that the lice were resistant to conventional treatments, the researchers applied an alcohol-based lotion to some of the subjects' scalps.
The researchers gave other subjects the heartworm pill, still others a placebo, and also gave some subjects a 'fake' lotion, which did not contain any pesticide.
People who received pills took two doses one week apart.
After 15 days had elapsed, 95% of the patients taking ivermectin had rid themselves of lice.
Although the lotion still fared comparatively well, with 85% of patients recovering from their head-lice, it was less convenient than the pills.
Patients who used pesticide lotion had to wait between 10 and 12 hours before washing their hair.
However, a seven-year-old girl patient who took the pill had a seizure.
The doctors who treated her prescribed epilepsy medication.
Lead author Olivier Chosidow of Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris said that he and his researchers believed ivermectin would be a good alternative to malathion and other lice-killing lotions, if doctors suspected the lice were already resistant to insecticides.
Ivermectin, called stromectol or mectizan in some countries, is also used to treat a disease called lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, in which certain parts of the body become enlarged.
It is used to treat another disease known as river blindness, one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide.
Every year, head lice affect about 100 million people worldwide.
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