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.
Robi-Comb tells by an audible signal whether or not head lice are present, so it can be used to detect an infestation, 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. 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.
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.
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 although 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.