All About Head Lice

Home All About Head Lice


What are head lice?

Pediculus humanus capatis, also called head lice are small blood sucking insects that live on a person’s scalp. They spread usually through head-to-head contact.

Who can get head lice?

Any person that comes in close contact, especially head-to-head contact, with someone who already has head lice is at the greatest risk. Head lice can also be acquired from contact with clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats or other personal items that belong to an infested person.

Preschool and elementary-age children, children ages 3 – 11, and their families are infested most often. Girls get head lice more often than boys, women more than men. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

What do head lice look like?

Adult Louse

There are three forms of lice: the egg or nit, the nymph and the adult or louse.

Nits are head lice eggs, they are very small, about the size of a knot in thread, hard to see, and are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. Nits are laid by the adult female at the base of the hair shaft nearest the scalp and are firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval and usually yellow to white. Nits take about one week to hatch. Eggs that are likely to hatch are usually located within ¼ inch of the scalp.

When the nit hatches into a baby louse it is called a nymph. It looks like an adult head louse, but smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about seven days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood. If the louse falls off a person, it dies within 2 days.

What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?

  • Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair.
  • Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of the head louse.
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping; head lice are most active in the dark.
  • Sores on the head caused by scratching. The sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria found on the person’s skin.

Where are head lice most commonly found?

Head lice and head lice nits are found almost exclusively on the scalp, particularly around and behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head.

Head lice or head lice nits sometimes are found on the eyelashes or eyebrows but this is uncommon. Head lice hold tightly to hair with hook-like claws at the end of each of their six legs. Head lice nits are cemented firmly to the hair shaft and can be difficult to remove even after the nymphs hatch and empty casings remain.

AirAllé™ FAQ

How does it work?

Head lice and lice eggs have a high water content and they are accustomed to living in a protected and humid environment. Rapid exposure to large amounts of dry, heated air causes them to dry out and die. The AirAllé® device delivers the right amount of heated air that does just that.

Does it really work?

AirAlle Professional Lice Device

Yes! The FDA-cleared AirAllé device kills lice and eggs through dehydration. This is a revolutionary alternative to treating head lice with pesticides, herbal lice remedies, suffocation products or lice combs. The device, which was invented by scientists at the University of Utah, kills lice and eggs through a specific combination of temperature, airflow, time and technique.

Because the AirAllé device is so effective at killing lice eggs (which are the hardest for traditional lice products to kill), the chances of needing a follow-up treatment are very small.

Clinical studies done on over 500 people with head lice demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the AirAllé device and treatment (see published data in the peer-reviewed Pediatrics and Journal of Medical Entomology). Thousands of successful lice treatments are now being done each month with the AirAllé device.

Why is an AirAllé treatment only about an hour when other lice treatments can take so long?

It only takes 30 seconds of exposure from the AirAllé device to kill lice and eggs in a given area. By following a set pattern on the head, it takes trained operators approximately 30 minutes to expose all areas of a typical head with the AirAllé device. The treatment then includes a comb-out to remove dead lice and eggs. These post-device comb-outs usually take half an hour.

Why is a 99.2-percent kill rate of lice eggs so important?

Lice eggs are harder to kill than the adult lice or nymphs using pesticides, herbal remedies, or suffocation products. If you don’t kill or remove all the lice eggs, you will continue to have an infestation when they hatch. This is why most lice-treatment options require additional applications a week or more after the initial treatment.

Is an AirAllé treatment the best way to kill lice and eggs?

That depends on your definition of which lice treatment is best for you. The AirAllé certainly delivers a fast, safe, highly effective way to kill head lice and eggs.

Are there any risks with an AirAllé treatment?

To date, no adverse effects have been reported; no one has been hurt by this treatment.

However, as is the case with all medical devices, there are some risks; although, they have been reduced to levels that are as low as reasonably practicable, but are still possible when the AirAllé device is used.

Who should get an AirAllé treatment?

The AirAllé device is intended to kill or remove head lice and their eggs in the hair of adults and children 4 years of age and older. To avoid using chemicals on children under 4, we recommend you do a traditional comb-out.

Is AirAllé a non-toxic lice treatment?

Absolutely. It uses just heated air to kill the head lice and eggs. It is a clean, dry treatment that uses no chemicals, essential oils, conditioners, etc.

Is the AirAllé treatment susceptible to lice resistance?

Although there is much documentation showing head lice are rapidly evolving resistance to many traditional pesticide-based products, it is highly unlikely they would be able to evolve a resistance to getting dried out from heat and air.

Does the length of hair impact the effectiveness of an AirAllé treatment?

No. As long as the hair can be combed or picked through with a standard comb, the type or length of hair does not impact the device’s effectiveness.

Does the AirAllé device have to be used in conjunction with another lice product?

Yes. An AirAllé treatment consists of using both the device as well as a quick comb-out with a louse comb. Most technicians also apply a final rinse of dimethicone oil at the end of the treatment to kill any remaining hatched lice that may have survived the treatment.

What does the AirAllé device look like?

It kind of looks like a vacuum cleaner with a long hose and an applicator tip at the end. But instead of sucking air, it blows heated air at a controlled flow rate and temperature.

What is the product description of the device?

The AirAllé device is a durable, portable medical device. It measures about 14 in wide x 19 in long x 12 in tall (35 cm x 48 cm x 30cm) and weighs less than 17 pounds (7.7 kg). It has wheels for good maneuverability and is designed to rest on the floor during use. A 6-1/2 ft (2m) removable hose delivers heated air from the AirAllé device to a single-use, disposable applicator tip.

The device runs on electricity from any standard power outlet (120V/15A;240V/10A). A precise temperature controller and dual sensors ensure that the temperature and flow rate of air delivered by the AirAllé device are monitored and precisely controlled.

Can anyone operate it?

The AirAllé device is relatively easy to use, but there is some learned technique involved to ensure that the treatment is delivered as safely and as effectively as possible.

This is why Larada Sciences requires that every operator of the AirAllé device receives specialized training and passes a competency exam before they can be certified to deliver AirAllé treatments.

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