Pediculosis: prevention and treatment

About the Disorder

Pediculosis is an infestation from lice, small white-greyish insects parasitizing the human body and feeding on blood. According to their shape and the body part where they tend to settle, three types of lice can be distinguished:

  • Pediculus humanus capitis, or head lice, living exclusively on hair;
  • Pediculus humanus corporis, or body lice, a species similar to head lice, but colonising body and clothing;
  • Phthirus pubis, pubic lice, commonly called crab-lice, morphologically well-differentiated from the above two species, affecting the pubic area but which exceptionally can be found on eyebrows, eyelashes and under the armpits.

Head Pediculosis affects mainly schoolchildren starting from the age of 3 upwards (with a peak at the age of 9) and is extremely frequent in children communities, particularly in schools, where it affects between 5 to 22% of children, regardless of their social status. The phenomen is increasingly growing and represents a socio-healthcare problem.

Adult lice, visibile to the naked eye, are 1 – 3 millimetres long, grey and present hook-like legs that make them tenaciously cling to hair. Lice complete their entire lifecycle on the host’s head during 1 – 2 months. The female lays 5 – 10 eggs a day, called nits, for a total of 300 eggs. Nits cling closely to hair at about 1 cm from the scalp, as 37°C is an ideal temperature for ripening.

Nits are tear-shaped, their diameter reaching 1 mm maximum and are an opaque yellow-greyish. After 7 – 10 days, the young insects are born, called nymphs, which start to feed on the host’s blood;  within a week they mature and become capable of laying new eggs. Every 4 – 6 hours the louse places its mouth on the host’s skin and penetrates it with a tubular part, secreting an anticoagulant and vasodilatory substance to facilitate blood-sucking. Lice do not survive in the absence of blood and die within 1 – 2 days. Nits, on the contrary, are much more resistant and can survive in the environment up to 10 days.

How contagion takes place

Lice’s jumping from one head to the other can happen either directly (head contact) or indirectly (mixed use of combs, hats, scarves, cushions, etc.). Contagion itself is not necessarily a sign of poor hygiene.

How it manifests itself

Lice typically “attack” the area around the nape and behind the ears, but can also be found on eyebrows, eyelashes and beard. The typical symptom of pediculosis is itching, due to an irritative-allergic reaction to the enzymes contained in the louse’s saliva. It is important to underline that this reaction takes days or even weeks to appear, meaning that when itching occurs, infestation may well be at an advanced stage and can have already caused contagion in another individual.

Superficial lesions caused by scratching can cause impetigo of the scalp and inflammation of lymphatic glands placed behind the ears as well as in the nape area (regional lymphoadenopathies). At times infestation can lack particular symptoms, making it even more difficult to identify.

“Traditional” treatments

Products marketed for the treatment of pediculosis contain one or more parasiticides and are available in different formulations. Based on experience in the past few years, it seems that no active constituent represents the ideal choice in terms of efficacy and lack of toxicity and, in any case, none can be used as a preventive measure. The most widely employed are: malathion, pyrethrins and permethrin.

Malathion is a phosphoric ether which is quite effective in the treatment of pediculosis. Its action causes an irreversible block of  acetylcholinesterase, resulting in an accumulation of acetylcholine at receptor level and consequently paralyzing the louse’s respiratory tract. However, the same effects can turn out to be toxic for man if ingested in high quantities, triggering the onset of cholinergic symptoms (nausea, vomiting, increase of secretions, bradycardia, bradypnea, coma, cardio-circulatory arrest. According to quantities ingested, symptoms appear after 30-60 minutes. Moreover, safety level of malathion in children under the age of six has not yet been pinpointed and lately there have been cases of resistance to the treatment.

Pyrethrins (pyrethrum extract) and permethryn (a pyrethrum artificial derivative) mainly act by blocking the louse’s peripheral nervous system, causing paralysis and death. These substances have low toxicity for man, unless taken in high doses, in which case they can cause nausea, abdominal pain, contact dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma. However, in the past few years their efficacy towards pediculosis has strongly declined, owing to the enormous growth of resistance in the latest generations of lice.

The problem of resistance

It is a recognised fact that the development of resistance is the main cause behind the increasing spread of pediculosis starting from the Nineties. Lice infestations in schools and communities crop up every year and are more and more difficult to eradicate.  Abuse of parasiticides leads to a kind of “tolerance” in lice, making them gradually resistant and therefore capable of spreading even more.

This situation, added to the risk of toxicity for man, poses the need for alternative strategies that can combine efficacy, lack of resistance and harmlessness for man. Moreover, it is important to implement preventive measures so as to avoid infestations and their transmission across schools and communities, not only by means of accurate, periodical inspection of hair and scalp, but also using products than can be applied locally and on a daily basis as a preventive measure.

Nature can help you in case of pediculosis

Our Approach

A natural and effective approach

As already highlighted, presence of pediculosis can be suspected when typical itching occurs. However, the symptom manifests itself once infestation has already taken place, even weeks afterwards, i.e. when it has already reached an advanced stage and has probably already caused transmission to other individuals. Not infrequently, pediculosis happens to be asymptomatic. Once recognized, infestation can be insensitive to traditional treatments due to increasingly frequent phenomena of resistance, unless parasiticide treatments are applied in high, reiterated doses, which unfortunately turn out to be toxic for man.

 These facts prove the growing need to adopt preventive measures, with the aim of minimizing the risk of infestation and transmissibility. It must be added that in terms of prevention it is impossible to guarantee 100% that lice will not move from one head to the other; on the contrary, it is possible to prevent lice from settling on the scalp and laying eggs, thereby giving rise to an actual infestation within a few weeks once they’ve hatched.

 If itching does not immediately appear, useful for a timely diagnosis indicated the presence of lice, the only way forward in order to avoid infestation, transmissibility and consequente use of “dangerous” parasiticides, is constant application of natural products capable of constrasting the initial settling in of lice, thereby preventing infestation. This form of prevention is certainly applicable and is a recommended course of action to safeguard the single individual’s health as well as that of the entire community.

Nature can once again serve a useful purpose, thanks to the extraordinary properties of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), which also ensures simultaneous parasiticide action.

 GSE and pediculosis

Besides being employed as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is largely exploited for its surprising parasiticidal properties. Several tests carried out in Laboratories and Institutes worldwide prove its efficacy towards a wide range of parasites, among which, apart from those attacking animals or plants, there are the principal parasites affecting humans, namely lice. GSE has shown astounding results against pediculosis of the scalp, as well as proving effective against nits.

Due to the above considerations, GSE represents the cornerstone of an undoubtedly effective approach against this parasitidical infestation. Its association with specific plant extracts allows for the following actions:

  1. prevention, through constant and continual use of harmless products for man, while also having a parasitidical and naturally repellant effect;  
  2. treatment of pediculosis using products capable of solving the problem of infestation in a rapid and effective way, without the risk of toxicity for man.

This approach, combined with a healthy lifestyle (in terms of diet, but not only), includes the use of natural remedies that are well known in folk tradition and the efficacy of which in providing an opportunity to prevent and solve the problem of pediculosis has been confirmed by recent studies.

  1. Prevention, through constant and continual use of harmless products for man, while also having a parasitidical and naturally repellant effect

HAIR LOTION

Nature can help you with…

Grapefruit Seed Extract: results obtained regarding the pestidice efficacy of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) confirm its validity for local use. Its synergy with specific plant extracts ensure that the formulation is effective and safe to use.

Sassafras: its essential oil is rich in terpenes, the main element of which is safrole, with a marked paraciticidal effect against so-called pediculus humanus capitis (head louse); in solutions ranging from 0,5 to 1%, it is harmless for man and can be used as a pesticide as well as a repellant for preventive action against lice.

Neem Oil (Melia azadirachta): the natural insecticide properties of Neem have been exploited for the past three thousand years by the Indians, who use its oil diluted with water to protect their crops from predatory insects. To reduce infestations of moths and bedbugs, Neem leaves and twigs are placed in beds, inside wardrobes, among clothing and storage depots for cereals.

During the past two decades, several scientific studies have rediscovered and reviewed in depth the potential of this particular tree, confirming its extraordinary properties as a natural pesticide and repellant against lice. Such action is attributable,in particular, to the presence of azadirachtin (an active principle contained in leaves and seeds), which has a very powerful effect on lice by causing lack of appetite and preventing them from developing and multiplying.

Lavander: its essential oil has proven antifungal, antibacterial and pesticide properties. Rich in linalool, linalyl acetate, eugenol, camphor, p-cymene, terpinen-4-ol, it exerts a particularly strong repellant action against head lice.

D-Panthenol (Vitamin B5): with an anti-itching effect, it contributes to the formation of a protective film on hair, preventing nits from clinging on to it while facilitating their removal by means of a comb.

The ideal means to take these ingredients is an ecospray hair lotion that is easily nebulisable on hair and scalp.

SHAMPOO

Nature can help you with…

Grapefruit Seed Extract: results obtained regarding the antiparasitic efficacy of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) confirm the validity of GSE also for local use. Its synergy with specific plant extracts makes the formulation effective and safe to use.

Sassafras: its essential oil is rich in terpenes, the main element of which is safrole, with a marked paraciticidal effect against so-called pediculus humanus capitis (head lice); in solutions ranging from 0,5 to 1%, it is harmless for man and can be used as a pesticide as well as a repellant for preventive action against lice.

Neem Oil (Melia azadirachta): the natural insecticide properties of Neem have been exploited for the past three thousand years by the Indians, who use its oil diluted with water to protect crops from predatory insects. To reduce infestations of moths and bedbugs, Neem leaves and twigs are placed in beds, inside wardrobes, among clothing and storage depots for cereals.

During the past two decades, several scientific studies have rediscovered and reviewd in depth the potential of this particular tree, confirming its extraordinary properties as a natural pesticide and repellant against lice. Such action is attributable,in particular, to the presence of azadirachtin (an active principle contained in leaves and seeds), which has a very powerful effect on lice by causing lack of appetite and preventing them from developing and multiplying.

D-Panthenol (Vitamin B5): with an anti-itching effect, it contributes to the formation of a protective film on hair, preventing nits from clinging on to it while facilitating their removal by means of  a comb.

The ideal means to convey these ingredients is a shampoo, to be used both as a preventive measure as well as to support treatment.

  1. Treatment of pediculosis using products capable of solving the problem of infestation in a rapid and effective way, without the risk of toxicity for man.

GEL

Nature can help you with…

Grapefruit Seed Extract: results obtained regarding the antiparasitic efficacy of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) confirm the validity of GSE also for local use. Its synergy with specific plant extracts makes the formulation effective and safe to use.

Cade oil (Juniperus Oxycedrus): cade oil, obtained by distillation from Juniperus oxycedrus bark (rich in sesquiterpene hydrocarbons and phenolic substances, guaiacol and cresol), with marked antiparasitic and pesticide properties also against pediculus humanus capitis.

Sassafras: its essential oil is rich in terpenes, the main element of which is safrole, with a marked paraciticidal effect against so-called pediculus humanus capitis (head lice); in solutions ranging from 0,5 to 1%, it is harmless for man and can be used as a pesticide as well as a repellant for preventive action against lice.

Neem oil (Melia azadirachta): the natural insecticide properties of Neem have been exploited for the past three thousand years by the Indians, who use its oil diluted with water to protect crops from predatory insects. To reduce infestations of moths and bedbugs, Neem leaves and twigs are places in beds, inside wardrobes, among clothing and storage depots for cereals.

During the past two decades, several scientific studies have rediscovered and reviewd in depth the potential of this particular tree, confirming its extraordinary properties as a natural pesticide and repellant against lice. Such action is attributable,in particular, to the presence of azadirachtin (an active principle contained in leaves and seeds), which has a very powerful effect on lice by causing lack of appetite and preventing them from developing and multiplying.

Lavander: its essential oil has proven antifungal, antibacterial and pesticide properties. Rich in linalool, linalyl acetate, eugenol, camphor, p-cymene, terpinen-4-ol, it exerts a particularly strong repellant action against head lice.

The above listed ingredients are best conveyed by means of a light, non-sticky gel to be distributed on hair and scalp.

FOAM

Nature can help you with

D-Panthenol (Vitamin B5): with an anti-itching effect, it contributes to the formation of a protective film on hair, preventing nits from clinging on to it while facilitating their removal by means of a comb.

Grapefruit Seed Extract: results obtained regarding the antiparasitic efficacy of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) confirm the validity of GSE also for local use. Its synergy with specific plant extracts makes the formulation effective and safe to use.

Sassafras: its essential oil is rich in terpenes, the main element of which is safrole, with a marked paraciticidal effect against so-called pediculus humanus capitis (head lice); in solutions ranging from 0,5 to 1%, it is harmless for man and can be used as a pesticide as well as a repellant for preventive action against lice.

Neem oil (Melia azadirachta): the natural insecticide properties of Neem have been exploited for the past three thousand years by the Indians, who use its oil diluted with water to protect crops from predatory insects. To reduce infestations of moths and bedbugs, Neem leaves and twigs are places in beds, inside wardrobes, among clothing and storage depots for cereals.

During the past two decades, several scientific studies have rediscovered and reviewed in depth the potential of this particular tree, confirming its extraordinary properties as a natural pesticide and repellant against lice. Such action is attributable,in particular, to the presence of azadirachtin (an active principle contained in leaves and seeds), which has a very powerful effect on lice by causing lack of appetite and preventing them from developing and multiplying.

Lavanda: its essential oil has proven antifungal, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Rich in linalool, linalyl acetate, eugenol, camphor, p-cymene, terpinen-4-ol, it exerts a particularly strong repellant action against head lice.

The ideal means to convey the above-listed ingredients is a foam that is easy to apply, with a mechanical instant foam dispenser without propellants.

Lifestyle

HYGIENE AND BEHAVIOUR STANDARDS (VALID FOR BOTH PREVENTION AND TREATMENT)

CHECKING THE PRESENCE OF NITS

Nits are small eggs with an elongated shape, a greyish white in colour, which are lain at 2 – 3 cm from the hairline. In order not to confuse them with dandruff, it is necessary to observe whether they come off easily from the hair or not. Nits remain firmly anchored to the hair and can only be removed using  tweezers, narrow-toothed combs or nails. Another typical feature of nits,  helpful to identify infestations,  is the particular area where these white corpuscules tend to be located, namely behind the ears and on the nape.

 REMOVAL OF NITS

Comb  hair every day, using a narrow-toothed comb. To help detachment of nits, cover hair with a wet towel for about 30 minutes, then accurately comb hair, wash comb and towel. To remove nits that remain anchored to the hair, use nails or tweezers. Accurarately wash all objects use for the operation.

HYGIENISATION OF PERSONAL OBJECTS

Wash combs, brushes, hairpins, hair elastics etc. with hot water  (over 60°C) containing GSE Stopped Shampoo. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Dry hair using a hairdryer. Wash bed linen, pillows, plush toys, scarves, hats, etc., at temperatures above 60°C. For greater pesticide efficacy, add half a teaspoonful of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE Drops) to normal cleansing agent before running the washing cycle.

GENERAL ADVICE

Avoid head-to-head contact.  Avoid exchanging and lending personal objects (combs, scarves, hats, brushes, etc.). In case of girls with long hair,  bind hair in a ponytail. Ask children to keep scarves and hats inside a jacket sleeve. Avoid crowded places and school communities. Avoid head-to-head contact with family members, too. The whole family is to be treated just in case.