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Hot Air Cures Head Lice Infestation

LouseBuster machine resulted in nearly 100 percent effectiveness after one treatment

MONDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Hot air seems to be a safe and effective treatment for head lice, and one method of heat application was 100 percent effective at curing lice infestation after a single 30-minute treatment, according to a report in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Dale H. Clayton, M.S., Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, tested six different treatment methods using hot air on 169 lice-infested children. Each of the six methods delivered hot air to the scalp in a different way.

The researchers found that all methods had high egg mortality, with 88 percent or greater killing, but had variable efficacy on hatched lice. One custom-built machine, called the LouseBuster, resulted in 80 percent mortality of hatched lice and nearly complete egg mortality. All subjects were cured of lice when checked one week after treatment with the LouseBuster, which delivers twice the air volume of a hand-held dryer at a slightly lower temperature.

"Hot air is an effective, safe treatment and one to which lice are unlikely to evolve resistance," the authors conclude. "We envision the LouseBuster to be an institutionally based machine operated by health care providers, school administrators, or trained parents and other volunteers."

The study was funded by the University of Utah. Some of the authors have patents pending for use of heat to treat head lice.

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