5/09/2010

Don't believe the Nix package. The hair dryer is your friend.

Here's some info I've mentioned before, but it is worth mentioning again. Researchers at the University of Utah created a contraption called "The Lousebuster"(Update: This device is now called the AirAlle). It is a souped-up blow dryer that kills 80% of lice and 98% of nits. Sounds great, huh? It is, but read on...

In creating this specialized tool, they did quite a bit of research about blowing air and head lice. Here's what they discovered the effectiveness of using a regular blow dryer as a weapon against head lice:



"A handheld blow dryer was used to apply directed heading. Hair clips were used to divide each child's hair into 20 sections. The dryer was held still for 30 seconds to heat one side, then held still another 30 seconds to heat the other side. This method killed 55 percent of lice and 98 persent of eggs." (Emphasis added.) They also say in this study that it is the blowing air that dries out the lice, and not the heat. And all of this was after just one treatment. Imagine the effectiveness when using directed heating with your blowdryer on a regular basis!

So, there you have it. Hair dryers are somewhat effective and should be one of the weapons in your head lice arsenal. I know that the makers of the lice "shampoos" told you not to use a hair dryer. And Alberta Health Services told you not to use a hair dryer. That's because the use of hair dryers make the pesticides stop working. Guess what? Those pesticides don't work that well anyway. Even the researchers who discovered the effectiveness of the hair dryer have tried to take the attention off of their research data in this regard, saying that a hair dryer is ineffective. (That is because they have their own air-blowing product to sell.)
Skip the pesticidal treatments. Read the data. Put the hair in sections and start blowing the scalp with warm (not hot) air. Just one more thing to add to your tool belt.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

After watching an interview on youtube with the owner of 'Rapunzels lice boutique' Ann Arbor MI,i wouldnt trust an ordinary hair dryer. Go to the professionals and use the 'Lousebuster.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

The Lousebuster is a fine product. However, it is not always readily available and the cost can be prohibitive for some (as can be the use of lice professionals in general, including me.)

I usually don't like people putting their advertising on this blog, but Michigan is a long way from Edmonton, Alberta and even if it weren't, there are enough lice to go around for everyone. At 'Rapunzel's Lice Boutique', they offer one lice service for a flat fee of $145 per person. This cost can be too steep for some, especially if you have more than one family member dealing with head lice or if your head lice is not dealt with in that one visit.

The University of Utah developed the Lousebuster and then created their own company called Lareda Sciences. It is their study (the same study that showed the effectiveness of their product the Lousebuster), that demonstrated how a regular hair dryer, on high power, used in directed heating on sections of hair, had considerable effectiveness. In fact, in the study, it had the same effectiveness as the Lousebuster in the drying out of lice eggs.

The great thing about this is that you can get a hair dryer for under $15 and use it as many times as you like for every member of your family. It is just one of the effective and accessible techniques that can be used when fighting head lice.

One more thing. I get a bit frustrated when we lice professionals tell those in the general public that they need us. While our information can be very helpful, all of it is readily available on the internet (though not all sources have the most up-to-date information). And though our experienced eyes can quickly see a bug or an egg, I find that most mothers, after nit picking for an hour, quickly learn what they are looking for. One mom told me that she started checking for signs of lice on the heads of people who stood in line in front of her at the bank.

When we wear white coats and bring in specialized chemicals or tools, we give the impression that we have an expertise that is unavailable to the common family. But head lice are not a health issue and do not require medical services. They require patience, time, and effort. If you have the cash and don't have the time, by all means, call a professional such as myself. Use us in the same way that you might use a house keeper. But if you do not, then get informed and get busy, because you, like generations of people before you, can beat this. If you have any questions, give me a call.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Many lice professionals offer to clean your home or launder items in the fight against head lice.

Please, please read the research. This simply isn't necessary. Don't panic about head lice as if it were a virus.

They may get you worked up about lice eggs that hatch off of the head.

Again, read the latest research. I've linked to various studies by leading researchers on this blog. These lice are not a threat. DO NOT waste your energy on anything off of the head. You have enough to deal with without having to waste money, time, and precious effort on excessive cleaning and washing.

nightowl1674 said...

Cathy, thank you so much for your comment about the blow dryer. I have been working for a lice removal company in Utah who have used the Lareda "Airalle," as it is now called. A few months ago we gave it up because of the increased cost of using their machine. The blow dryer idea is awesome! You just changed our practice with your common sense. I will be discussing it with the owner tomorrow. I had read the study previously, but hadn't put together the simple use of a blow dryer as getting 55% of bugs, plus 98% of the eggs. Awesome! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi- do you do the blow drying on dry or damp hair?
Thank uyou for this blog- you've halted my nervous breakdown!!!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

You want to dry the nits and lice out so you blow dry hair that is already dry. Remember - don't burn anyone. You want the highest speed but don't need the highest heat.

Lisa C said...

Thank you for the blowdryer suggestion, I'll definitely be using it. I'm so frustrated with nitpicking but I understand the need for it. My big issue is finding nymphs but not nits. How it that possible? The first time my girls had it, I found lots of nits but few live bugs. Granted I initially panicked and bought/used Quit Nits but this time I decided to forego the pesticide and just pick, pick, pick. I'm familiar with the nit but I'm only finding a few! Certainly not in the multitude I would expect considering the sheer amount of nymphs she started with. I'm going through her hair in 8 sections and by thin, thin lines with a super bright light and lice comb. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I have literally had years and years of treating lice with 3 children (I even caught them I think it was my lowest moment) ,use conditioner and then a nit comb ,then use a hairdryer (which is so brilliant ) and then top it off with hair straightener which will pop any ones you have missed ,it is a fail safe and then hairdryer and straighten as a regular routine we are now clear !

Nicole Spear said...

We are battling lice with my two girls for the first time ever.. I have even purchased the robee comb.. amd we just always seem to be back to ground zero every couple of days.. I am going to try the blow dryer tomorrow amd comb through and see if we can get this once and for all! So frustrated!

Strawberrygrl said...

Did three blowdryer work?

Strawberrygrl said...

Did three blowdryer work?

Unknown said...

I read that they found the blow drier worked, then months later returned to the article and it had been edited to say that the blow drier did not work. That they had to use a modified pet grooming drier. (Eye roll)

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Funny, I've never seen that ever. The current website to the Air Alle, formerly the Lousebuster, still has links to the original research paper that demonstrated the effectiveness of the blow dryer. If you have any links to any new studies or articles, feel free to share them. Thanks!

Barbie Chiu said...

I'm so glad to have found something informative in your site. Thanks for sharing.

jandi

www.triciajoy.com

lsucajunqt said...

My daughter was sent home with lice yesterday. I got the Nix treatment kit and was able to comb out 4 bugs. (the daycare center director told me that they didn't find a lot on her, but another child was completely infested!) I called the local Lice Removal company this morning and they told me they could treat her head for $150! I was like are you serious? She explained the process saying "it was a medical device that blew hot air that dries out the lice & eggs." I told her "basically you're charging me $150 to blow dry my daughter's hair." She proceeded to tell me that the household hair dryer gets too hot and is not recommended. Ha! I am so glad I did some research online and came across your blog. I am definitely going to try my hair dryer now.

Diane Jewkes said...

Do you think using a bonnet hairdryer attachment for the blow dryer would be effective?

Anonymous said...

I called the company to inquire about schools purchasing a LouseBuster but she said they will not sell it to schools, it has to be set up as a business. The price per treatment is excessive. I have four kids so it would be over $800 for my entire family to be treated. I am so glad to read this article. I think I may just upgrade to a more powerful hairdryer as mine is in need of replacing and do the comb outs every few days as a preventative measure. The treatment price is way too steep for the Lice Clinics.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm new to.this site but I've read some articles. I think I may possibly have head lice. my head has been itchy for months now and I have been freaked out. A week or so ago I went to a hotel and the day we were leaving I saw a huge lice bug. I freaked out but didn't tell any one, it was the day we were leaving so I was glad to leave. Maybe two days later I told my mom and she said I had nothing but now today before I got a shower I found multiple bugs. I'm dont know what to do and I'm still young (11-15) what do you suggest I do?

Robb Walker said...

Hi, thanks for this article on using a hair dryer for lice infestations. I have just started using a hair dryer on my two children (10yo and 4yo girls) after every bath/shower specifically for the purpose of staving off lice infestations.

We've been through a couple infestations now. The first time, we tried combatting it at home with Nix products and combing. It took forever and obviously wasn't completely effective. The last infestation, we didn't have the time or patience for weeks-long treatments and hours-long combing sessions (we were going on vacation to WDW the following weekend). Also, my older daughter broke down into a tearful depression when we confirmed she had lice again. She just remembered the hours of sitting still while mommy and daddy took turns combing (ripping, more like it) her hair out the last time. So, we decided to go to an AirAlle salon. It cost a total of $600 to treat three people (2 daughters and my wife; I lucked out and didn't have lice. Yea, men's short hair!). We were out of there lice-free after 3 hours. It was totally worth the cost that one time with the vacation deadline we were up against.

However, I cannot see us spending that much money EVERY time someone in our family brings home a louse on their head. Too costly for multiple or frequent treatments. So, I'm hoping the use of a handheld home hair dryer is effective enough to keep it under control.

I have a couple questions for you. 1). Will the consistent use of a hair dryer to dry hair after every bath/shower be enough to kill any current bugs and prevent future infestations? 2). Do you have to use the heat setting on the hair dryer or will the "cool" setting work just as well? You and/or your referenced material mentioned that it was the high volume of blowing air that was more important rather than the temperature of the air.

Currently, our girls only bathe/shower 3 times per week. We previously had only towel-dried their hair and let it air dry the rest of the way. The past two "bath nights", I have intentionally blow dried their hair with the hopes that it will help prevent any infestation. We got word over this past weekend that one of best friends' kids had lice. While we didn't find any on our daughters upon inspection, I'm hoping that using the hair dryer will help kill any lousy bugs that may have hitched a ride home. Do you think this will be an effective approach?

Thanks,
Robb

A W said...

@Robb Walker I'm interested to see Cathy's answers to your questions. I'm a mom in a similar situation to yours. I appreciate someone doing research to get more control of the situation, this is so tough.

I've been poking around on the internet after reading this article; and after reading articles and watching videos, I came up with the following information. 1) A machine that operates at 138 degrees (130 is kill temp) would be ideal for killing lice. 2) The air flow volume of an ideal machine would be 2x a regular hand held dryer. I've also seen pet grooming dryers on Amazon and other places that seem like they may have high volume air flow and temperatures that can be set to a specific temperature. One that I saw had kind of a diffuser attachment to it, but the end was bigger than the hose, which I didn't think was ideal.

Any idea how to figure out what 2x the airflow of a regular hand held dryer would be? Shared info might really be able to help.

Desperate said...

Would a bonnet hairdryer work?

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

In the University of Utah study, a bonnet hairdryer with two hoses (twice the power) was not as effective as a hand held dryer with air directed at the scalp one section at a time.

What I like about the use of a hand held hair dryer is that it is (a)easy to use, (b) very accessible, and (c) cost effective. The way that you use a blow dryer in the fight against head lice is different than the way you might use it daily. When I blow dry my hair after a shower, I'm just moving the blow dryer all over the place with my hair flying everywhere and usually I stop before my hair is even fully dry because I'm pretty impatient with my hair styling. Blow drying for head lice is different - with that, you blow dry on dry hair. You divide the hair into sections and must be very particular about directing the air on either side of the section of hair, right at the scalp, for at least 30 seconds each. The study did show that it was the highest speed of blowing air, not the highest temperature, that made the difference. As my post said, you don't want anyone to get burned - you can still dry out the eggs with cool air. Personally, I don't use blow drying as a preventative measure; I use it once head lice have been found. I prefer a quick, in the shower, weekly wet combing as a technique for detecting lice - if you are doing this with a good lice comb, you will never be surprised by an infestation of lice. You will always catch them before they will become a big problem again.

Laurie Gottesman said...

thank you Kathy. The $185 was all the money I've been able to save all year after tything and paying bills. I will try this now everyday for 13 days...

Unknown said...

Hello unfortunately myself and my 2 month old daughter have lice been going threw her hair every 3 hours or so with a thin comb and getting everything out used this hair dryer trick on myself and it seriously works , any ideas of what I can do for my little one ?

Anonymous said...

Our strategy was: Start with dry hair, use hairdryer on hottest tolerable setting for 10 to 15 minutes while moving hair around and covering all areas. Do in the morning and night for a couple of days at least. No showers during this time. Based on the theory that each time you dry them out, you kill off a certain percentage of eggs and bugs, you can just keep at it as often and long as your kid can stand it. We did this for about 3 days and had no re-occurrence.

Unknown said...

Has anyone tried following up with a straight iron?

Unknown said...

We are in the middle of hell as I call it....three girls and myself and I combed combed combed and then did the hairdryer technique with a flat iron as well. I will try anything at this point. Still not seeing anymore evidence but we have so much hair in this house I don't have my guard down for a second!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

If you don’t see any more evidence, this is a good thing. You can trust this. I’m not saying you should put your guard down, but you can definitely breathe a little.

The flat iron is not effective as I’ve explained in my post. I would never take the risk of putting that amount of heat so close to the scalp – it is worse to have burns than it is to have head lice. A flat iron will miss any lice or nits that are right on or right next to the scalp. Any nits that are further down the hair shaft are either already hatched or not viable; so a flat iron won’t assist you there. Sorry. Keep up with the combing – not every day but every few days – until you have had 2 weeks with no new evidence of lice. And please do not do extra house cleaning. Just stick to the combing. With three girls, I would probably just set a routine where I do a wet combing for one child per day – let the girls each have a rest for a couple of days. Good luck!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

The straight iron is not a tool for lice removal. Sorry. Please read my post "Flat iron? Bad idea."

Unknown said...

You can use any blow dryer that makes hot air. As a kid my mom always blow dried our hair and it was very affective. As a mom of 4 kids 3 of which are girls. I used a blow dryer daily on all of them n my 11yr old still daily. Also if anyone comes home with lice we oil our scalps with baby oil once every 2 weeks we use baby oil n wear a shower cap over night. Toss all pillows and stuffed animals in the dryer, wash bedding and vacuum your carpets. Fighting lice is hard when many parents don't keep their kids lice free. So please help educate your neighbors if your kids come home with bugs

MJ said...

Cathy all your posts are so helpful specifically because this is your profession. My Pediatrician gave me a prescription for sklice. I used it and then combed her hair...I actually found a lot of more nits than I expected and one dead bug (I'm sure there were more but that's the only one I saw). This is my first dealing with lice. My daughter is 5 and has very, very long beautiful curly hair that is difficult to manage. She's Puerto Rican and black, I only use cleansing conditions to was her hair and nothing with sulfates. I wasn't sure if washing her hair, or even just conditioning, her hair after the lice treatment would affect the treatment in any way. Still, there was no way for me to get a nit comb without some kind of moisturizer so I put olive oil in her hair to get the comb through. Was that ok? Can I was her hair? I'm also going to try blow drying her hair. I spent 6 hours yesterday between applying the product and combing her hair with many tears in between. I'm going to cut her hair, once this is over, to the middle of her back, which is about half her hair b/c I can't deal this again. :(

MJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

I meant to say can I wash her hair and condition it? How many weeks should I keep checking for lice/nits. I have no one that can check me for lice but my daughter's Pediatrician kindly checked me yesterday. I have no itchiness but find it strange I don't have it. Will using a nit comb for myself suffice? I'm so scared I have it or will get it.

Anonymous said...

Some hair dryers such as the Revlon Healthy Hair Laser Brilliance Ceramic Ionic Infrared Heat Dryer,claim to have infrared and/or ionic features. Does anyone know if these have any impact on lice?

Anonymous said...

Hi,

We have been dealing with head lice for literally years. We have family members that we dearly love that keep passing it back and forth with their other family members.

My husband and I found out that when we take olive leaf extract regularly we don't get them. The only time I got them is when I wasn't taking the olive leaf extract. The thought of them makes my head itch like crazy regardless!

I just bought the lice comb for a young family member, and will be buying a hair dryer today. Thanks!