Claifornia dermatologist unveils non-toxic head lice treatment

Jan 01, 2005, 5:00am

Menlo Park, Calif. - Dale Pearlman, M.D., was puzzled. Increasingly, though he used appropriate, proven neurotoxic lotions to treat head lice problems of his patients, in far too many cases, the lice weren't going away.

Menlo Park, Calif. - Dale Pearlman, M.D., was puzzled. Increasingly, though he used appropriate, proven neurotoxic lotions to treat head lice problems of his patients, in far too many cases, the lice weren't going away.

"Parents were using the standard over-the-counter remedies - Nix and Rid are two of the more popular ones - which are insecticidal lotions, or pediculicides, which in the past have proved effective in killing head lice," Dr. Pearlman says. "Many parents, health-care specialists and physicians are reluctant to use Malathion and Lindane, the more powerful neurotoxin-based products, because of safety concerns.

"I began to suspect that over the years, the lice had mutated, had built up a resistance to these nerve toxins that have been used successfully as a remedy for head-lice conditions."

"I began thinking about non-toxic alternatives to the neurotoxin remedies, an alternative that would preclude lice from developing a resistance to it," he says. "I knew that historically, parents have attempted to come up with home treatments that are non-toxic, like applying mayonnaise, Vaseline or olive oil. These 'wet' suffocation agents block the lice's breathing portals - and even lice can't build up a resistance to suffocation. The problem is these home remedies are largely ineffective, not to mention incredibly messy, because they get rubbed off easily with scratching, or even wearing a hat or turning your head on the pillow while sleeping. Lice can survive as long as six hours without air intake, so I wanted to come up with something that would block those breathing portals significantly longer than six hours."

The result of Dr. Pearlman's research is a non-toxic DSP (dry-on, suffocation-based pediculicide) lotion he calls Nuvo. The lotion is applied to the patient's head and then dried with a hair dryer, a process that forms what Dr. Pearlman describes as a "shrink-wrap film" that permanently blocks the lice's breathing portals and suffocates them. Dr. Pearlman says his discovery works exceedingly well: In a research study published in the September 2004 issue of the journal, Pediatrics, he writes that after treating 133 head-lice patients with Nuvo, 96 percent of them experienced no recurrence of head lice during a six-month follow-up period.

In addition to the bothersome - and often psychologically stressful - problems inherent in head-lice conditions, Dr. Pearlman cites a more universal problem he hopes his Nuvo discovery can help overcome.

"Head lice are a very costly problem, not only to parents but to schools," Dr. Pearlman says. "U.S. families spent in more than $160 million in 2002 just for purchased treatments at pharmacies and supermarkets. And since the infected child is usually excluded from school or daycare, either a parent must stay home from work and possibly lose wages, or hire a baby sitter.

"Meanwhile, school districts across America lose millions of dollars per year in state daily-attendance payments due to students excluded from school because of a head-lice condition," he adds.

Currently, Nuvo is available only to Dr. Pearlman's patients. He says he hopes to find a pharmaceutical company with regulatory and marketing expertise that will help him bring Nuvo to a wider public.

For more information:

http://www.nuvoforheadlice.com/.