Published On: Thu, Jan 12th, 2017

Syracuse Clinic Treats Head Lice with Hot Air

A head lice clinic in Syracuse, New York is taking a new approach to treatment: hot air. The treatment is designed to give patients an alternative to conventional treatments that include pesticide-based shampoos, Syracuse.com reports.

The clinic, aptly named Naughty Nits, uses a device called AirAlle, which is cleared by the FDA. The device applies heat to the scalp, which dehydrates the lice and eggs. The hot air treatments can be used on patients aged four and up.

Part of Lice Clinics of America, the company also maintains clinics in Buffalo and Rochester. They are the only clinic in the area that uses hot air to treat lice. Lice Clinics of America has more than 100 clinics across the country that use this treatment to kill lice.

The hot air treatment gives parents an alternative to harsh shampoos conventionally used to kill lice.

Pediculus humanus capitis

Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse) Image/CDC

“A lot of parents don’t realize what they are putting on their kids’ heads is pesticide,” says Marnie Murray, owner of a Naughty Nits clinic.

Murray joined up with Lice Clinics of America shortly after AirAlle launched. She got into the lice removal business after her children developed them. Murray refused to treat her children with pesticides. She started out using the wet combing technique.

Wet combing with a fine tooth comb was the go-to method for natural lice removal prior to the launch of AirAlle in 2010. Fine tooth combs catch both the lice and the eggs, allowing for easy removal from the scalp.

Studies published in the Journal of Medical Entomology and Pediatrics showed that a 30-minute treatment session with the AirAlle is an effective and safe way to eliminate head lice.

The hot air treatment is great news for parents, as 6-12 million children develop head lice each year. As the bugs develop resistance to conventional chemical treatments, lice are becoming more difficult to treat.

The Naughty Nits clinic aims to make lice treatment as inconspicuous and quick as possible. Patients enter through a back door in the Cicero Professional Building. The clinic also guarantees that patients will walk out of the door lice-free after just their first treatment.

For an additional fee, the clinic will also comb out the dead lice and eggs.

Before opening in Syracuse, Murray says families were traveling all the way to the clinic in Rochester.

While hot air is an effective treatment method for lice, experts warn that a hair dryer is not a safe solution. Hair dryers deliver enough heat to kill lice, but the direct heat may cause burns or injury.

Lice is becoming a growing problem in schools, but not for the reasons parents might think. Experts say taking “selfies” with friends is putting kids at greater risk of developing lice. Because lice cannot jump or hop, transmission can only occur through direct contact.

Doctors typically recommend the use of pyrethrins to kill lice. Pyrethrins is a type of pesticide made from extracts from the chrysanthemum plant. This pesticide is neurotoxic to lice, but those who are allergic to chrysanthemums should avoid using these treatments.

Author: Jacob Maslow


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