Everyone wants the magic pill.

The Edmonton Journal ran an article in today's paper from the Los Angeles Times. This article was about a drug that could be taken in pill form that would get rid of head lice.

This pill is nothing new under the lice-fighting sun. The drug is an anti-parasitic drug called Ivermectin. It has been used for years with livestock, but is not approved for human use in North America. When I saw the Journal's headline, "Pill may be a better parasite killer", I was saddened. How long are we going to look for the magic pill in getting rid of head lice? As with any oral medication, ivermectin can have side effects, some of which are worse than the itching of head lice. The study presented in this article was not just a study on ivermectin alone - it showed that malathion lotion (another topical pesticide) was more effective in killing head lice when paired with ivermectin pills. However, let me highlight a few parts of this article:

In the article, Dr. Olivier Chosidow says that, as with the over-the-counter products, "lice can become resistant to ivermectin". He also is quoted as saying that the medicine can cause problems for some people. The article then lists the side effects experienced by some people in the study.

My favourite quote from the article is from Dr. Barbara Frankowski from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. She says, "In the grand scheme of what kids get, head lice is minimal. It get blown out of proportion. For me to want to use something on a patient, it has to be 100% safe. You never want the cure to be worse than the problem you're trying to get rid of." Very true, and the only thing that is both effective and completely safe is picking/combing.

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