Development of Newer Agents to Eliminate Head Lice

Research has shown that excessive use of over-the-counter treatments has led to the development of a resistant genetic mutation in lice, which allows them to remain steadfast in the presence of chemical compounds that were previously considered to be efficient in lice killers. Scientists are now looking for other ways to remedy the effects of the non-viable over-the-counter treatments for lice by looking for new elements that can be used in pesticides. Let’s take a look at what some of these new agents are.

Benzyl alcohol

This is a non-neurotoxic agent which suffocates lice by closing their respiratory spiracles through an obstruction, leading to asphyxiation—where the lice are deprived of oxygen and become unconscious to eventually dying. Trials were conducted to test the efficacy of this agent in subjects from 2 to 70-year-olds. Studies concluded that two applications, each lasting ten minutes, could eliminate lice. However, the treatment needs to be repeated for seven days for it to remove all traces of an infestation. The agent also hasn’t been tested on pregnant women or breastfeeding women, which still puts benzyl alcohol in its clinical trial stages. Additionally, patients younger than 6 months can’t use benzyl alcohol treatment to get rid of lice as that increases their risk of developing the gasping syndrome.


This agent works by causing neuronal excitation, leading up to muscle contractions in lice which result in paralysis and death. Tests were conducted to assess the effectiveness of the agent in a random group of 1083 patients. The patients were instructed to apply Spinosad to the scalp twice a day. While the immediate results displayed the elimination of lice, the primary outcome showed a return of lice after 14 days of the treatment in most patients. Although Spinosad was deemed safe and effective for use on children under the age of 6 months, systematic safety hasn’t been evaluated among subjects that are below the age of 4. Other than that, just like benzyl alcohol, Spinosad also poses the threat of the gasping syndrome. Spinosad Agent


Ivermectin works by binding itself to the chloride channels that are present in the muscle and nerve cells of lice. The binding effect results in paralysis and death of head lice. In a study conducted, the agent was applied to dry hair to cover the scalp. Test results showed partial elimination of lice after 15 days of the treatment—76.1 percent of the subjects in the treatment group remained lice-free, whereas others weren’t as lucky. A drawback of this agent is that overuse can lead to irritation of the scalp. These include common side effects such as ocular hyperemia, dandruff, eye irritation, dry skin, conjunctivitis, and a burning sensation on the scalp. While these newer agents may be used to eliminate lice to a certain extent, their continued use can pose serious safety and health hazards. If you’re looking for an effective lice removal service that uses pesticide free, non-toxic treatment methods to get rid of lice, visit Lice Troopers lice removal clinic near you! Call us at 800-403-5423.