Lice Face Lousy Future From Dryer Device

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 08 Nov 2006
Time: 12:30:55
Remote Name:


Lice face lousy future from dryer device

By Michael Conlon
Mon Nov 6, 12:08 AM ET

A single 30-minute treatment with a hair dryer-like device kills head lice more effectively than chemical preparations, apparently by drying the bugs and their eggs to death, researchers reported on Monday.

If the device, called the Louse Buster, wins U.S. regulatory approval, it could be on the market for schools, clinics and other institutional settings within two years, the report from the University of Utah said. "It is particularly effective because it kills louse eggs, which chemical treatments have never done very well," said Dale Clayton, a biology professor at the school who led the research and helped invent the machine. "It also kills hatched lice well enough to eliminate entire infestations. It works in one 30-minute treatment."

The study, published in the November issue of "Pediatrics," the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the device blows air at a slightly cooler temperature than a hair dryer. The parasites may be dried to death, the study said. Previous research had found that lice eggs, called nits, lose their amniotic fluid in hot conditions making it difficult for them to hatch. An earlier study involving a hair rinse using the pesticide permethrin killed 60 percent of eggs, compared to 98 percent mortality with the dryer. The hot air dryer is also likely to avoid the problem of lice developing drug-resistant strains, the authors said.

"In summary, hot air is a significant improvement over other therapies used to treat head lice," the report concluded. It said the device is in early stages of commercial development by a University of Utah spin-off company, Larada Sciences, for which Clayton is chief scientific officer, with patents pending on the technology. Randall Block, president and chief operating officer of the company, said the device will have to pass "fairly rigorous clinical trials" before it can be approved as a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration. Block said it will be intended primarily for use in schools, clinics and other institutional settings, and will likely cost from $1,000 to $2,000 for the basic machine.

Clayton warned parents not to use home hair dryers to try to kill head lice.

Last changed: November 08, 2006