LiceGuard® Shampoo: Can it Wash Away Your Lice?
Have you, a friend, or loved one ever had a lice infestation and been overcome with a sense of impending doom to the point where you’re holding the razor and ready to shave your head? Well, LiceGuard® claims they may be able to help with that. There are many treatment options out there similar to Lice Guard Shampoo which could possibly get rid of the lice as easily as washing your hair in the morning. The question is: does it work?
What is it?
LiceGuard® shampoo marketed to eliminate lice & eggs1. It is available as part of a lice elimination kit which includes a fine comb with a magnifying hair pick tool. The entire kit costs between $15.00 – $30.001. From the dozens of ingredients that make up this product, there are only a few that provide benefit. Denatonium benzoate can help relieve the itching and pain and various moisturizers found in the product can help restore the barrier function of the skin (scalp)1. The two ingredients directly involved in killing the lice are benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone2.
How does it work?
There is not too much research on this product so we broke it down into it’s active ingredients and analyzed their ability to really kill the lice. There is no real data on these specific ingredients killing lice, and most of the data is based off of bacteria & fungi experiments. Benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (are also known as isothiazolones) are commonly used as a poisonous substance to kill pests in certain industries. They work in a few different and morbid sounding ways. First, the block the ability of these pests to produce energy which essentially exhausts them to death2. They can also work by shutting down the organism’s oxygen use, causing suffocation2. Finally, they block main pathways for reproduction and the ability to function. Although these chemicals are shown to work against bacteria, algae and fungi, there is not too much research to show if they are efficient at killing lice.
What does the evidence say?
Since there are no studies on LiceGuard® itself, we had to research the main ingredients alone and determine if they would be effective. Since benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, target different organisms such as: microbes, fungi and algae, the affect on lice is not too clear! As for the nit removing ability, some studies have shown that these ingredients are better than placebo (not doing anything), but may work as well as good old fashioned shampoo and conditioner!3
Are there any safety concerns?
LiceGuard®® Lice & Egg Shampoo is made up of almost two dozen ingredients. After reading through safety data published on each of these products, we have concluded that most of them are completely safe4-13, with the exception of three: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Methylisothiazolinone, and Benzisothiazolinone. Assessing each of these products individually, SLS itself is approved and safe; however, during its manufacturing process it may be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, which have cancer-causing properties and are not approved for use in cosmetics14. Methylisothiazolinone, is also a preservative commonly found in baby wipes; however, incidence of allergy from this compound is rising high enough that some jurisdictions are considering banning the product altogether15. Finally, Benzisothiazolinone, the bug-killing ingredient of this product may cause contact dermatitis, which is red & inflamed skin16.
At this point, LiceGuard® does not appear to be as effective as marketed! It has limited efficacy on killing lice and its ability to remove nits are on par with regular shampoo and conditioner! If you really want to buy this product, you would be better off saving money and just buying a decent fine-toothed comb and using conditioner! Ifyou want something useful, go with either Resultz® or if you have the time, Nyda®17!
Authors: Anthony Sudano, Aditya Garg, Dylan Olsen, Franklin Nkengfack, Ryan Mccullough, Thomas Lai.
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Alberta
Edited and Reviewed by the Health Aisle Team
- Lice and Egg Elimination Kit. Retrieved From: https://www.LiceGuard®.com/products/lice-elimination-kit
- Williams M. Terry. (2007). The Mechanism of Action of Isothiazolone Biocides. Power Plant Chemistry, 9 (1): 14-22.
- Lapeere, H., Brochez, L., Verhaeghe, E., Stichele, R., Remon, J., Lambert, J., Leybaert, L. (2014). Efficacy of Products to Remove Eggs of Pediculus humanus capitis (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae) from the Human Hair. Journal of Medical Entomology, 51(2): 400-407.
- Fiume, M. Z., Andersen, F. A. (1998). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of glycolic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, and sodium glycolates, methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl glycolates, and lactic acid, ammonium, calcium, potassium, sodium, and tea-lactates, methyl, ethyl, isopropyl, and butyl-L lactates, and lauryl, myristyl, and cetyl lactates. International Journal of Toxicology, 17(1): 1-241.
- Fiume, M., Heldreth, B., Bergfield, W., Belsito, D., Hill, R., Klaassen, C., Liebler, D., Marks, J., Shank, R., Slaga, T., Snyder, P., Andersen, F. (2012). Safety Assessment of Alkyl PEG Ethers as used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology, 31(2): 169S-244S.
- Liebert, M. A. (1983). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Polyquaternium-11. Journal of the American College of Toxicology, 2(5): 161-178.
- Robinson, V., Bergfield, W., Belsito, D., Hill, R., Klaassen, C., Liebler, D., Marks, J., Shank, R., Slaga, T., Snyder, P., Andersen, F. (2017). Safety Assessment of Panthenol, Pantothenic Acid, and Derivatives as Used in Cosmetics. Scientific Literature Review for Public Comment. Retrieved From: http://online.personalcarecouncil.org/ctfa-static/online/lists/cir-pdfs/SR737.pdf
- Liebert, M. A. (1988). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate. International Journal of Toxicology, 7(6): 837-880.
- Lanigan, R. S., Yamarik, T. A. (2002). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of EDTA, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Diammonium EDTA, Dipotassium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, TEA-EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tripotassium EDTA, Trisodium EDTA, HEDTA, and Trisodium HEDTA. International Journal of Toxicology, 21(2): 95-142.
- Becker, L., Bergfield, W., Belsito, D., Hill, R., Klaassen, C., Marks, J., Shank, R., Slaga, T., Snyder, P., Andersen, F. (2010). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Allantoin and its Related Complexes. International Journal of Toxicology, 29(2): 84S-97S.
- Liebert, M. A. (1990). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Phenoxyehtanol. International Journal of Toxicology, 9(2): 259-277.
- Andersen, F. (1999). Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Cocamide MEA. International Journal of Toxicology, 18(2): 9-16.
- Andersen, F. (2008). Final Report of the Safety Assessment of Alcohol Denat., Including SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40, SD Alcohol 40-B, and SD Alcohol 40-C, and the Denaturants, Quassin, Brucine Sulfate/Brucine, and Denatonium Benzoate1. International Journal of Toxicology, 27(1): 1-43.
- Robinson, V., Bergfield, W., Belsito, D., Hill, R., Klaassen, C., Marks, J., Shank, R., Slaga, T., Snyder, P., Andersen, F. (2010). Final Report of the Amended Safety Assessment of Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Related Salts of Sulfated Ethoxylated Alcohols. International Journal of Toxicology, 29(3): 151-161.
- Sibbald, D. (2017). Atopic, Contact, and Stasis, Dermatitis. Retrieved From: https://www.etherapeutics.ca/print/new/documents/MA_CHAPTER/en/psc1056
- Angerer, J., Bernauer, J., Chambers, C., Chaudhry, Q., Degen, G., Nielsen, E., Platzek, T., Rastogi, S., Rogiers, V., Rouselle, C., Sanner, T., Benthem, J., Engelen, J., Vinardell, M., Waring, R., White, I. (2012). Benzisothiazolinone. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. Retrieved From: https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_099.pdf
- Miller, F. Penny. (2016). Parasitic Skin Infections: Lice and Scabies. Compendium of Therapeutic Choices for Minor Ailments.