Intended for healthcare professionals


Combing and combating head lice

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 11 August 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:362
  1. Martin Dawes, chair of family medicine (
  1. Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, 515 Avenue des Pins, Montreal, Quebec H2W1S4 Canada

    Choose between four successive combings or two applications of pediculicide

    You have to take your hat off to the head louse. Described in ancient Egyptian and Greek medical texts, it has been a source of irritation and disgust for thousands of years. Today, with a search on Google yielding 699 000 hits, the mostly harmless head louse has developed into an apparently fearsome pest. During the past 2000 years, a wide range of treatments for head louse infestation has been proposed. Not one has worked sufficiently for it to be regarded as a panacea. The comparison of effectiveness of comb and pediculicide, as reported in a paper in this week's BMJ, is certainly not new.1

    Hill et al (p 384) report this week the most complete assessment of the non pharmacological approach “Bug Buster,” testing it against pediculicides available over the counter in the United Kingdom. …

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