Head lice — new treatment that doesn’t use chemicals

Filed in Gather News Channel by on April 12, 2010 0 Comments

Head lice — just the thought strikes terror into the heart of any parent. Not only is an infestation disgusting, but it’s embarrassing, a pain to deal with, and causes issues with schools and day care. Current treatments using harsh chemicals can be dangerous, even when used properly, and some people have allergic reactions. Never use kerosene to treat head lice!

Dr. Dale Clayton developed a new treatment that kills not only the lice but their eggs, too, using hot air. The device uses a high volume of hair (more than a blow dryer) and medium heat to dry out and kill lice and the eggs.

Who gets head lice?

Anyone can get head lice. They are transmitted most often by head-to-head contact, but can also be caught from sharing hairbrushes, hats, pillows, etc. recently used by someone with head lice.

Head lice are more common in close, overcrowded living conditions. Lice spread easily among school children.

Having head lice causes intense itching, but does not lead to serious medical problems. Unlike body lice, head lice never carry or spread diseases.

The biggest myth about head lice is that they are a sign of poor hygiene. That is just not the case. They spread like wildfire through schools, but people of any age can get them. Rich as well as poor are affected.

How do you know if your child has head lice?

When my daughter got them, the first sign was that she was scratching her head constantly. I didn’t see anything on the ends of her hair (she had very long, gorgeous red hair), but the nits were visible as tiny white dots stuck to the hair near the scalp.

Experts say signs of head lice are:

  • Intense itching of the scalp
  • Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders
  • Bumps may become crusty and ooze
  • Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off

Lice on scalp and clothing may be difficult to see, unless the infestation is heavy. If you see something moving, it’s called a louse.


The currently recommended treatment is a solution of 1% permethrin (Nix). This is what I used on my daughter, and it damaged her hair. It made it dry and brittle and nothing I did got that shine back. It smells bad, too. The chemical must sit on the head for 10 minutes. Not easy with an angry, itchy, squirming child! It does work, but this hot air treatment seems a lot easier, less messy, wouldn’t have exposed my child to strong chemicals, doesn’t smell bad and doesn’t damage the hair.


With the Lousebuster, hot air (not even as hot as from a hair dryer) is directed at the scalp and hair for about 30 minutes. I wish this treatment had been around when my children were young!

The New York Times posted an article on April 9 called, Killing lice is a growing business. It talks about various companies who have purchased one of these devices (and been trained in its safe use).

It looks like an up-and-coming new business that would do well in an area with schools, day care, etc. Most of the companies are catering to the wealthy, but there are hair salons that deal with nothing but lice removal. Careful combing after treatment is still required, but it sounds a lot better than anything I’ve ever seen so far!

I haven’t been able to find out how expensive the device is yet, but if you aren’t too grossed-out by lice, it might make an excellent income opportunity.

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The Hide-E-Hole Ferret Rescue has been finding homes for ferrets since 2002. We adopt out between 75-125 ferrets a year. If they are not adoptable due to age or behavior issues, we do not euthanize, but keep them until the end of their natural life.

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