Close-"Nit" Combs Get It Done

Removing head lice works best with metal comb containing tight teeth

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When killing lice isn't an option, consumers just want the best way to comb them out. Metal combs with close-knit teeth are the best option, a new study has found.

With both plastic and metal combs available on the market, the material it's made of doesn't mean it will remove lice the same way as other combs, researchers said.

"Keep kids from sharing hairbrushes."

The study, led by Anabella Gallardo, PhD, from the Centro de Investigaciones de Plagas e Insecticidas in Argentina, compared two plastic and two metal combs in their ability to remove head lice.

More than 1,200 children from Buenos Aires, Argentina, with at least 10 head lice were included in the study. The hair of each child was divided in half to compare the work of both a plastic and a metal comb.

Teeth in a KSL plastic comb were .23 mm apart and 13 mm long. In the NOPUCID plastic comb, teeth were .3 mm apart and 10.7 mm long.

Among the metal combs, teeth in the KSL were .15 mm apart and 31 mm long while the ASSY metal teeth were spaced 0.09 mm apart and 37 mm long.

Researchers found both plastic combs removed more adult lice than it did eggs. The eggs that were removed by these combs were already hatched, and the metal combs were better able to remove eggs.

Between the plastic combs, researchers found the KSL brand worked best in removing nits and lice at all stages. The ASSY was the most effective metal comb.

And looking at the top combs, the metal one beat the plastic as it removed about 65 percent of lice from all stages compared to about 35 percent with the plastic one.

"The comparison of same material combs suggested the space between comb teeth is an important feature in removing lice," researchers wrote in their report.

"The most effective plastic comb has smaller distance between their teeth. Similarly, the most effective metal comb was that with the smallest distance."

The authors say future research should look into how the features of the combs remove lice and their eggs.

The study was published online December 2 in the journal Parasitology Research. ANPCyT (Argentina), CONICET (Argentina) and Laboratorio ELEA supported the study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 16, 2012
Last Updated:
December 31, 2013