Robi Comb - South Africa
Frequently Asked Questions
The head louse is a parasite which lives on the human scalp, feeding on human blood. The "bite" made to suck the blood does not hurt, but the substance the louse excretes to prevent the blood from clotting can cause itching and allergic reactions. Lice have a lifespan of 40 days, during which each lays about 200 eggs (also called nits), attaching one egg per strand of hair with a very strong natural "glue". Most of these hatch within seven to ten days. Given the average growth rate of hair, by the time the egg hatches it is located about 5mm (about 1/5 of an inch) from the scalp, Lice live so close to the scalp that they are often hard to see. So it is easy to understand why lice are so hard to control, being prolific egg layers and hard to find. The nits themselves are easier to see and far greater in number. Live nits are usually found close to the scalp, are a yellow/gray color when laid and turn to dark brown when they're about to hatch. After hatching, the empty egg cases are whitish in color. Because there are so many eggs laid, and because they're attached with such a strong glue, it is difficult to find and remove all of the eggs. Finding just one louse or nit is enough to signal immediate treatment, because where there is one, there are almost always more, and more to come.
Children up to the age of 12 are the most susceptible to head lice, but it does affect older children as well. Since lice transfer easily from one head to another through physical contact or sharing clothing, hats or brushes, they are easily contracted by children in schools, day care centers, camps and similar locations. Once thought to be primarily a "back to school" problem, head lice have now become a year-round issue.
Yes. In the United States , roughly six million cases are reported annually by school nurses. Experts believe that the problem is under-reported, and that in fact there may be as many as 20 million cases each year. Many children suffer from recurring infestation, or re-infestation, which can happen when returning to a classroom or similar situation where an ongoing problem exists. Many schools will not allow children back into a classroom until their head lice is gone, creating significant hardship for both child and parents.
There are a variety of ways to treat head lice – topical medications, fine-toothed combs, and with Robi-Comb, the new electronic comb. In addition, many experts recommend treating clothing and bed linens to help prevent re-infestation. The most common method for treating head lice until now has been the use of topical medications usually in the form of a shampoo, whose main ingredients are pesticides which attack the louse's nervous system. While these medications have long been considered effective, they can damage the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. (This can occur accidentally, or the pesticide can be absorbed through wounds on the scalp caused by scratching, since head lice can cause itching of the scalp.) Recently, many parents and school nurses have shared concerns that head lice are developing resistance to pesticides, and have reported treatment failures using pesticide based products. Scientific studies in the US and other countries have reported pesticide-resistant head lice. After seven to ten days, the pesticide shampoos recommend a second application to insure that as the eggs hatch they are destroyed. (Pesticides are generally not terribly effective on the young eggs, as they have no central nervous system for the chemical to attack.) Continued use of a fine-toothed metal lice comb is also recommended. Very fine-toothed metal combs can also be used to remove lice and nits. This treatment must be performed on wet hair, is frequently time consuming and occasionally painful to the child. Olive oil, petroleum jelly, mayonnaise and a variety of other remedies have also been reported. The family should also do a careful cleaning of all items in the home. Hats, coats, scarves and bed linens should be machine washed in hot water and dried in the hot cycle for 20 minutes or more. Articles which are not washable should be dry-cleaned and placed in a sealed plastic bag for about two weeks. Brushes and combs should be disinfected by soaking in very hot water. And thorough vacuuming of the child's room and play areas is also suggested. Lice need to feed a number of times a day, so they cannot live for long periods away from a human host. Taking the above suggested steps will help avoid a continuation of infestation caused by lice which have temporarily located on a household item until "hitching a ride" on another scalp.
Robi-Comb is a small (3" x 2 ¾") comb with metal coated teeth, powered by a single AA battery. As the comb slides through a child's hair, it makes a soft humming sound until it encounters a louse. At that time, the sound stops and a small electrical charge passes from one of the comb's teeth through the louse to the next tooth, killing the louse. Using the small brush included in the Robi-Comb package, the user removes the dead louse from the comb's teeth and resumes combing.
Robi-Comb was developed in 1991 and tested on children by the Beilinson Medical Center , University Medical School . It was found to be as effective as permethrin ( the primary ingredient in pesticide shampoos) in curing the initial infestation, and possibly more effective at preventing a reinfestation. It was also tested at the Medical Entomology Centre in England , and found to be very effective. Robi-Comb has been used in England , France , Germany , and Israel for about eight years. In Europe , hundreds of thousands of units are sold each year. The product was introduced in the United States in 1998 and has been very well received. School nurses report that Robi-Comb is able to find lice which they have missed when checking visually. More than 3000 school districts in all 50 states are currently using the Robi-Comb, and it is now available at major pharmacy retailers like OSCO, CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreen and many others. Please visit the "Testimonials" page of this web-site to see just a few of the many comments we have received from parents, school nurses and pharmacists.
First , it tells by an audible signal whether or not head lice are present, so it can be used to detect an infestation. In fact, many school nurses use Robi-Comb for exactly that reason. Second , since it involves simply combing a child's head for five minutes a day. Robi-Comb is a painless and efficient way to help prevent infestation or re-infestation. Existing chemical products are generally not recommended for such prophylactic use because of concerns regarding overexposing children to the pesticides. Children with colds, asthma, or any other respiratory conditions are strongly warned not to use Pesticide or Toxic based solutions. Third, Robi-Comb is used on dry hair, eliminating the need for having to wear gloves to apply a pesticide shampoo and worrying about exposing mucous membranes to the shampoo. Fourth, studies as well as reports from school nurses and parents now show that some lice are resistant to the shampoo treatments currently available. Robi-Comb is a safe and non-toxic alternative.
No. Even pesticide-based medications have limited success against nits, because young nits don't have a central nervous system for the pesticides to affect. Pesticide shampoos generally do leave a residue on the hair for a few days, which can kill the lice as they hatch. Both Robi-Comb and shampoo manufacturers recommend attempting to physically remove the nits from the head, though this can be quite difficult to do completely, and just a few nits are all it takes to keep an infestation going. Shampoo manufacturers recommend a second application of the shampoo seven to ten days after first use, which is the time it takes for the newest eggs to hatch. We recommend using the Robi-Comb each day for ten to twelve days while the eggs are hatching to kill the lice as they hatch. At the end of twelve days, all of the eggs should have hatched, and there will be no live lice left to lay eggs and no eggs left to hatch. We also recommend that when the child returns to school, the Robi-Comb should be used for a few minutes every other day for as long as there is a problem in the classroom to detect and kill any lice which may have transferred to the child's scalp.
Yes. Removal of lice eggs, also called nits, is an important part of the lice treatment process. Because nits hatch up to ten days after being laid, their continued presence in the hair can lead to an ongoing infestation even after treatment with a lice killing shampoo. Using Robi-Comb, one can deal with this issue by combing every day for 10 days, killing the lice as they hatch until there are no more eggs left to hatch. Another alternative is LiceGuard Lice Egg Remover althought it does not kill lice, it does make egg removal much easier. It has an original formula that softens and untangles the hair and has been shown to be very effective in removing nits. In a clinical trial, LiceGuard Egg Remover removed 85% of the nits in one group of children after just five minutes of combing with a fine-toothed comb, compared to only 25% of the nits when LiceGuard was not used.
There are two things to be concerned about in these situations. First, it is important to avoid transferring lice from one scalp to the next. Fortunately, Robi-Comb signals when it has trapped a louse. Before resuming the combing process, or using the comb on another child, the teeth should be inspected and the dead louse removed with the cleaning brush which accompanies the comb. Second, to sanitize the comb, recommended to use 91% isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol should be poured onto a cotton ball which you can clean the comb's teeth and the surrounding plastic area.
School nurses may wish to use a spray germicidal instead of the alcohol. Because excessive moisture on the comb will prevent it from working, and since it takes a while for the toothed-comb to dry, we suggest that when screening a large number of children, nurses consider using two Robi-Combs, so that one can be cleaned and dried while the other is in use. A portable hair dryer can also help speed the drying process.