Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center Study Sheds New Light on Pediatric Lice Treatment
Pesticide-free lice treatments

A new study conducted by the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, challenges the long-held assumption that pesticide-based lice treatments are the best way to eradicate infestations. The study concludes that dimethicone – a colorless, odorless silicone-based liquid – could be the answer for an effective, safe treatment option in pediatric patients.

The study appears to be the first in the U.S. to partner with school nurses in a clinical trial on head lice. Six schools across New York and New Jersey enrolled students in a two-week trial on the dimethicone product LiceMD. The study found that after only one day of treatment, 98.3 percent of children were lice-free. The study was published in BMC Pediatrics June 2015 edition.

“Our center’s mission is to identify, control and ultimately prevent toxic exposures in the environment that threaten our children's health. Lice are benign, so it never made any sense that the conventional treatment of pesticides could be exposing kids to something far worse than lice. That's why we conducted a clinical trial to find a safer, pesticide-free alternative that is effective at eliminating the lice without the potential to harm our children.” said Deirdre Imus, president and founder of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center.

Head lice affects 6 to 12 million Americans – mostly children - each year. With concerns about increasing pesticide resistance and the potential health effects of pesticides, some parents and pediatricians have been searching for effective, safer options. Potentially neurotoxic pesticides have been linked to lower IQ, diminished attention span, other neurodevelopmental issues and childhood cancers.

“It’s encouraging to see dimethicone listed as an alternative treatment in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2015 Clinical Report on head lice, and to now have research findings that show this treatment is essentially as effective as the pesticide-based ones. This expands the treatment options for pediatricians, school nurses, and families, who are on the front lines of this common childhood condition,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., vice president and chief academic officer, HackensackUMC, chairman and physician-in-chief, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at HackensackUMC.

“Parents want the safest possible solution for their kids, one that works with the fewest side effects. This is an option that fits this need well,” said the study’s principal investigator, Lawrence Rosen, M.D., medical advisor at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center (DIEHC) at HackensackUMC. “Dimethicone should be considered a first-line treatment for head lice,” said Dr. Rosen.

“This is a game changer for parents who are looking for a pesticide-free product. Our team is grateful to the many school nurses and parents who were enthusiastic, key partners in this research,” said the study’s senior author, Erin S. Ihde, MA, CCRP of the DIEH, at HackensackUMC.