Device shows promise as head lice cure

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 16th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Each year, up to twelve-million Americans are infested with head lice, causing children to miss as many as twenty-four million school days. Head lice infestation isn’t an illness, but it’s unpleasant for the child and an exasperating problem for parents and school authorities.

Head lice unfortunately have evolved resistance to many of the current chemical treatments such as insecticide shampoos.

So, who you gonna call? Would you believe…the LouseBuster? That’s what Utah biologists are calling a new machine they invented which shows promise for curing head lice. The LouseBuster is a chemical-free, hairdryer-like device. Research published recently in the journal Pediatrics shows the invention eradicates head lice infestations on children by exterminating the eggs and killing enough lice to prevent them from reproducing.

Killing louse eggs is a feat that conventional treatments have never done very well. The experimental LouseBuster also kills hatched lice well enough to eliminate entire infestations. It works in one thirty-minute treatment, whereas chemical treatments require multiple applications one to two weeks apart.

The LouseBuster blows warm air through a flexible hose, which has a rake-like hand-piece on the end. It appears to kill lice and their eggs by drying them out— not by heating them. Parents are urged not to use hair dryers to try and kill lice for fear of burning their children. The LouseBuster is actually cooler than a hair dryer.

The researchers hope the LouseBuster technology is on the market within two years for use in schools and clinics.