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6 November 2015 A Novel Nit Comb Concept Using Ultrasound Actuation: Preclinical Evaluation
Mark N. Burgess, Elizabeth R. Brunton, Ian F. Burgess
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Nit combing and removal of head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis De Geer (Anoplura: Pediculidae), eggs is a task made more difficult because “nit combs” vary in efficiency. There is currently no evidence that the binding of the eggshell to the hair can be loosened chemically and few hair treatments improve the slip of the louse eggs along the hair. Ultrasound, applied through the teeth of a nit comb, may facilitate the flow of fluids into the gap between the hair shaft and the tube of fixative holding louse eggs in place to improve lubrication. Ultrasound alone had little effect to initiate sliding, requiring a force of 121.5 ± 23.8 millinewtons (mN) compared with 125.8 ± 18.0 mN without ultrasound, but once the egg started to move it made the process easier. In the presence of a conditioner-like creamy lotion, ultrasound reduced the Peak force required to start movement to 24.3 ± 8.8 mN from 50.4 ± 13.0 mN without ultrasound. In contrast, some head louse treatments made removal of eggs more difficult, requiring approximately twice the Peak force to initiate movement compared with dry hair in the absence of ultrasound. However, following application of ultrasound, the forces required to initiate movement increased for an essential oil product, remained the same for isopropyl myristate and cyclomethicone, and halved for 4% dimeticone lotion. Fixing the nit comb at an estimated angle of 16.5° to the direction of pull gave an optimum effect to improve the removal process when a suitable lubricant was used.

© The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:
Mark N. Burgess, Elizabeth R. Brunton, and Ian F. Burgess "A Novel Nit Comb Concept Using Ultrasound Actuation: Preclinical Evaluation," Journal of Medical Entomology 53(1), 152-156, (6 November 2015).
Received: 14 July 2015; Accepted: 19 October 2015; Published: 6 November 2015

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head lice
nit removal
Pediculus humanus humanus
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