The National Pediculosis Association® (NPA) has submitted a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting that it update its website and other educational materials so that combing with well-designed nit-removal combs like the LiceMeister® is presented as a safe and effective option for the treatment of children with head lice. Doing so would give more parents access to the critical information and guidance necessary to make informed decisions. There are many children for whom a non-chemical treatment for lice is required.
The NPA’s petition is consistent with the FDA’s goal to empower consumers and patients to make informed and effective health decisions, as stated by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. in his blog post, “Looking ahead: Some of FDA’s major policy goals for 2018.” Currently, the agency offers extensive information about brand name chemical methods that can be used to treat children with head lice, but mentions combing only briefly and generically, without sufficiently explaining the value of combing or that all lice combs are not equivalent.
The benefits of combing and the LiceMeister comb are well documented. Since its inception in 1983, the NPA has advocated for combing to remove lice and nits. In 1997, the NPA developed the LiceMeister comb, which features elongated stainless metal teeth precisely fixed in a hygienically-sealed handle. The comb can be sterilized for safe and repeated use, and in 1998, it was “accepted” by the FDA as a 510(k) medical device (FDA K981250).
The indicated use of the LiceMeister is for “routine screening, early detection [and] removal of lice and their eggs,” which, when done thoroughly, effectively ends an infestation. That means the LiceMeister is a complete treatment that can either stand on its own as an alternative to pesticides and various chemicals or be used as a complement to other remedies.
When used routinely, combing allows parents to be the first to know their child is infested, discovering it early when there are fewer lice and nits to comb out. As reported by Mumcuoglu KY, et al, “Diagnosis of louse infestation using a louse comb is four times more efficient than direct visual examination and twice as fast. The direct visual examination technique underestimates active infestation and detects past, non-active infestations.”
In fact, because combing is so effective for screening and treatment, it has spawned a cottage industry of lice and nit removal services and has become an accepted method for data collection in scientific research studies.
When used as a complete treatment, combing can meet the health and medical needs of those who are most vulnerable to pesticides, while reducing the use of potentially harmful chemicals.