Background: A previous study indicated that a single application of 4% dimeticone liquid gel was effective in treating head louse infestation. This study was designed to confirm this in comparison with two applications of 1% permethrin.
Methods: We have performed a single centre parallel group, randomised, controlled, open label, community based trial, with domiciliary visits, in Cambridgeshire, UK. Treatments were allocated through sealed instructions derived from a computer generated list. We enrolled 90 children and adults with confirmed head louse infestation analysed by intention to treat (80 per-protocol after 4 drop outs and 6 non-compliant). The comparison was between 4% dimeticone liquid gel applied once for 15 minutes and 1% permethrin creme rinse applied for 10 minutes, repeated after 7 days as per manufacturer's directions. Evaluated by elimination of louse infestation after completion of treatment application regimen.
Results: Intention to treat comparison of a single dimeticone liquid gel treatment with two of permethrin gave success for 30/43 (69.8%) of the dimeticone liquid gel group and 7/47 (14.9%) of the permethrin creme rinse group (OR 13.19, 95% CI 4.69 to 37.07) (p < 0.001). Per protocol results were similar with 27/35 (77.1%) success for dimeticone versus 7/45 (15.6%) for permethrin. Analyses by household gave essentially similar outcomes.
Conclusions: The study showed one 15 minute application of 4% dimeticone liquid gel was superior to two applications of 1% permethrin creme rinse (p < 0.001). The low efficacy of permethrin suggests it should be withdrawn.
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN88144046.