Pediculosis Plague? Not in the Promised Land

May 29, 2018

3 min read

Ever since God transformed the dust of Egypt into lice, even the thought of those tiny, wingless, parasitic insects can make you itch.

In many American nursery schools and kindergartens, itching and having head lice (known scientifically as pediculosis) is enough for a toddler to be sent home and not to be allowed to return until the little creatures are wiped out.

In Israel, there are rules against banishing infected children from class, so as not to embarrass them, as head lice do not cause disease (except skin infections in rare cases) but are only an annoyance.

Nevertheless, an Israeli company maintains that it has found what it calls a “100% natural solution” to the plague of pediculosis, which even affected the heads of Britain’s Prince William and Prince Harry when they were small. Clean or even royal heads do not deter head lice; they even seem to prefer clean hair over oily, dirty hair.

Until now, pesticides that could be harmful to health or that cause resistance in the lice have been used to treat pediculosis. The Israeli solution, however, poses no such problems.

A company called TechCare Corp. based in the Israeli city of Rosh Ha’ayin, manufactures the Novokid device in nearby Rehovot, which is the home of the Weizmann Institute of Science, where the original basic research was conducted some two decades ago.

The solution to head lice is a pellet made from cane-sugar vinegar mixed with concentrated rosemary essence that is vaporized in a flexible plastic hood secured on the head. A small, internationally patented device that runs on four small batteries forces the natural substances with air at room temperature into the hood. The hair should be dry while the device runs for only 10 minutes, according to Dr. Ariella Samak, the company’s pharmacist who moved to Israel from France two years ago. The device carries a three-year warranty.

Novokid device (Courtesy)

The device was updated by Tel Aviv University biochemist Dr. Fernando Patolsky; it was tested for any side effects by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center dermatologist Prof. Sarah Brenner, who found none. Its use is recommended for children aged four years through adults.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem parasitologist Prof. Kosta Mumcuoglu and colleagues also studied the technology and found that Novokid “kills 100% of the lice and the yet-unhatched eggs.” He explained that it works when the vapor penetrates the lice’s airways and blocks the tiny, wingless insects’ oxygen supply.

To be most effective, the hood has to be worn twice (the second 24 hours after the first treatment) for straight hair and three times for thick or curly hair, Samak said. A fine-tooth lice comb to remove the dead lice and eggs comes with the device, which costs approximately $72, plus $16.75 for a package of four pellets. The product is sold online to customers around the world at after having been introduced in Holland and then Israel. Soon it will be marketed in France as well.

“For those infected with lice, the treatment options have been limited to pesticide-based solutions that have very limited efficacy and carry significant risks,” said Zvi Yemini, chairman and CEO of TechCare Corp. “Novokid has been scientifically proven as an effective treatment while being cost-effective, efficient and safe. We are eagerly beginning our commercial launch in Europe and are confident over time that Novokid will become the preferred option for lice treatment.”

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