Head lice have long been the scourge of schoolchildren and their families. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 million to 12 million lice infestations occur each year among children ages 3 to 11 years. Lice can spread quickly through direct contact with the hair of a person who had them — though personal hygiene, cleanliness of the home or school, and sharing of clothing and personal items is not usually the cause. (Lice are less common among African-Americans, which may be because of the shape and width of African-Americans’ hair, according to the CDC.)
If the ease by which they spread isn’t bad enough, there’s also growing concern that lice could become resistant to over-the-counter medicines used to kill them. A recent study, funded by skin treatments maker Tec Labs and published in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy, compared two treatments for head lice: sodium chloride spray in the 1% strength and the current, recommended treatment 1% permethrin crème rinse.
Though the brand has been on the market for 15 years, “this is the first clinical trial we’ve done on any Licefreee-branded product,” a Tec Labs spokesman told DSN Collaborative Care. Tec Labs markets sodium chloride 1% under the brand name Licefreee Spray, and also markets the treatment in gel and shampoo forms.
The study enrolled 42 treatment subjects, ages 4 years and older, who were diagnosed as having an active head lice infestation, defined as having at least 10 live lice found during a screening. They were then divided into two groups of 21, one of which received sodium chloride spray, while the other received permethrin. Treatment was administered over a course of 15 days, with administration on the first and eighth days and checkups on the first, eighth and 15th days. Only those found with live lice using the same products and protocols as on the first day were given a second administration on the eighth day.