"It is particularly effective because it kills louse eggs, which chemical treatments have never done very well," Dale Clayton says, a University of Utah biology professor who led the research and co-invented the machine. "It also kills hatched lice well enough to eliminate entire infestations. It works in one 30-minute treatment. The chemical treatments require multiple applications one to two weeks apart."

"Each year, millions of children are infested with head lice, a condition known as pediculosis, which is responsible for tens of millions of lost school days," the study's authors write. "Head lice have evolved resistance to many of the currently used pediculicides [insecticide shampoos]. Hot air is an effective, safe treatment and one to which lice are unlikely to evolve resistance."

The device blows warm air through a flexible hose, which has a rake-like hand piece on the end. It apparently kills lice and nits by drying them out, not by heating them. Clayton urges parents not to use hair dryers to try to kill head lice.

In their research a plastic hand piece with 10 coarse teeth (not like fine-toothed nit combs) was attached to the end of the LouseBuster hose and raked through hair while hot air blew the opposite direction. All areas of the scalp were raked and exposed to hot air for at least 30 seconds. The LouseBuster with the handpiece killed 80 percent of hatched lice and 98 percent of louse eggs.

The 80 percent kill rate was high enough to prevent remaining lice from breeding - possibly due to stress or sterilization - so "virtually all subjects were cured of head lice when examined one week following treatment with the LouseBuster," the scientists write.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Utah