“Super lice” is an often-used and mostly misunderstood term. The most often refers to head lice that have become resistant to the most common over-the-counter lice-removal products on drug store shelves in the United States. Recent studies confirming this phenomenon have cause a media frenzy of sorts, and the term super lice has become a convenient moniker for pesticide-resistant head lice.
Just because head lice in the U.S. have become immune to the most commonly used treatment doesn’t mean that head lice have suddenly become untreatable. Far from it. Researchers have been working for decades to develop alternatives to pesticide-based head lice treatment. After all, the active ingredients in retail head lice products, a class of pesticides called Pyrethroids, have long been a concern for parents and for the medical community alike. Few relish the idea of soaking a child’s hair or scalp with an insecticide. Even though Pyrethroids have been deemed safe in prescribed doses, overexposure can lead to health problems.
That head lice have developed resistance to Pyrethroids is mostly due to the fact that we’ve been using the same stuff to kill them for so long. Head lice develop resistance fairly quickly, according to Shirley Gordon, director of the Head Lice Treatment and Prevention Project at Florida Atlantic University. “The more a product is used within a community, the more lice in that community become resistant,” she said. “We don’t like to use the term super lice, because it’s sensational and frightening. It’s not a super bug, but a louse that has become resistant.”
Super lice is a misnomer because it implies that the strain of head lice in the U.S. and other countries that is now Pyrethroid-proof is like some kind of killer swarm out of a horror movie. That’s not the case. It’s just that using the same chemicals against head lice for decades has caused the insects to adapt to its use.
A path towards a more effective and safer head-lice treatment than Pyrethroids has come from an entirely different direction—a medical device-based treatment using carefully controlled hot air to kill head lice and their eggs (called nits). The device was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Utah while studying animal lice. The lice could not survive in the arid desert environment. When a researcher’s child came home with head lice, and the products they used to treat it were not effective, the idea of killing lice using heated air was born.
The result, after years of careful research and development, clinical trials and FDA clearance, is the AirAllé device. It kills lice and nits by dehydrating them by applying air that is hot enough to kill lice, but cool enough to be safe for human hair and scalps. Clinical trials found that it kills head lice and 99.2 percent of eggs in a single treatment.
The AirAllé device can kill pesticide-resistant lice because it doesn’t rely on pesticides at all.
AirAllé-based lice removal is available exclusively at Lice Clinics of America treatment centers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Treatment takes an hour to 90 minutes, and lice and egg removal takes place in a single session and is guaranteed.