Efficacy of a grapefruit extract on head lice: a clinical trial

Parasitol Res. 2010 Jan;106(2):445-9. doi: 10.1007/s00436-009-1683-7. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Twenty children aging 2-9 years old--four boys with short hair and 16 girls with long hair--were included in a clinical test on the efficacy of a product against head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis). Their hair were exposed to Licatack, which is a recently developed new anti-louse medicinal product containing extracts of grapefruits besides high quality shampoo components. Prior to this field trial, the product Licatack was tested dermatologically to be skin safe receiving the grade "very good". The children's mothers combed the kids prior to the start of the test in order to confirm that they were all lice-infested. The obtained lice were used for in vitro tests. All children were heavily infested. After combing and preservation of the living lice, the hair was wet with tap water. Then, 50 ml of the Licatack shampoo was placed onto the top of each child's head. Then, the mothers distributed the rather fluid product all over the hair thoroughly from their base at the skin until the free end. During this process, a type of massage, the product became foamy and it was easily recognized where the product covered the hair, thus, avoiding untreated spots. The hair of half of the treated children were washed with tap water after 10 min of exposition; while in the other half of the children, the exposition period was prolonged to 20 min before washing. When combing the kids with a metal louse comb after the washing, the lice were found immobile and they did not recover during the following observation period of 4 h. Only two lice from the group with an exposition time of only 10 min showed some slight leg movements after they had been combed off, but they died within the next 2 h. Thus, this new anti-louse medicinal product has a very quick and efficient activity besides its advantages of being non-inflammable, skin safe, and nice smelling. None of the kids claimed any burning at the skin or other side effects, although the skin showed, prior to treatment, lots of scars due to louse bites. The dead lice always appeared considerably shrunken due to drying. The second treatment after 10 days revealed a few dead larval stages since, apparently, some larvae (apparently treated at an early stage of development when treated) had hatched from the extremely numerous nits in the period between first and second treatment. Experiments with cutoff nits, however, showed that the product also kills larval stages inside nits.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Citrus paradisi / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Insecticides / isolation & purification
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Insecticides / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Pediculus / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Insecticides
  • Plant Extracts