A Brief History of Lice

An FDA cleared, clinically proven effective lice treatment is now available

Louse: a type of small insect that lives on the bodies of people or animals;
a bad or cruel person (Merriam-Webster)

Head lice have been around for a long time. Genetic studies suggest that lice developed about 1.68 million years before homo sapiens emerged, and that they started their relationships with humans about the same time human evolution separated from chimpanzee evolution. The oldest physical evidence of head lice on a human was a nit found on the hair of a 10,000-year-old body at an archeological site in Brazil.

Lice combs have been found in the tombs of Egyptian royalty, and even Cleopatra was said to have solid gold lice combs buried with her. Clearly, in those times, it was not considered a social blemish to deal with head lice. They wanted to have their lice combs in the next world. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that the technology for treating head lice did not change much for thousands of years. More on that later.

Intact nits have been found on the heads of the mummified remains of ancient Romans and Egyptians, and have vexed doctors and philosophers from Aristotle to Louis Pasteur. In 1100 A.D. a Rabbi proclaimed that it was permissible to remove head lice on the Sabbath. The war on lice has been going on for thousands of years, with little innovation to make it easier and more efficient.

The first recorded treatment of head lice comes from an Egyptian medical guide called the Ebers Papyrus dated around 1550 B.C. It recommends filling one’s mouth with warm date meal and water and then spitting it on the skin “in order to drive away the Fleas and Lice which disport themselves…” Science? Probably not. In China, documents from 1200 B.C. indicate they used mercury and arsenic compounds to drive away head lice. It didn’t work. By 450 B.C., Egyptians recommended shaving the entire body to eradicate lice, which, while effective, has proved impractical in the succeeding centuries.

In 100 A.D., the Chinese discovered that Pyrethrum powder, extracted from a species of chrysanthemum, was an effective insecticide. Marco Polo brought Pyrethrum powder to Europe in 1300 A.D., proclaiming it to be a near magical compound. Pyrethrin, a more refined extract of pyrethrum, was first available as a head lice treatment in the 1940s, and was indeed effective at killing head lice (though less effective at killing eggs, or nits). In 1977, Permethrin, a synthetic version of Pyrethrin, was introduced as a head-lice treatment product. By 1999, studies in Britain, Australia and the United States found head-lice strains were developing resistance to these natural and synthetic pesticides (collectively called Pyrethroids). In the United States, 80 percent of over-the-counter lice products contain Permethrin or Pyrethrin.

In addition to diminished effectiveness, these insecticide-based treatments involve a lengthy, painstaking process of applying the topical chemicals, combing out dead lice and eggs, and repeating the combing process for weeks to ensure that all of the eggs have been removed. It takes about 7-10 days for eggs to hatch. If a few eggs were missed and more lice are found after the application and combing, it’s time to start over. The stress and uncertainty surrounding whether a treatment has been effective is typically protracted because success is by no means assured.

While head lice have afflicted humans for millennia, it wasn’t until the poet Robert Burns wrote “To a Louse: On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church,” that we see head lice publicly stigmatized. In the poem, Burns excoriates the, “ugly, creeping, blasted wonder, detested, shunned by saint and sinner.” He goes on to say, “How dare you set your foot upon her – Such fine a lady … Go somewhere else and seek your dinner on some poor body. Off! In some beggar’s temples squat: There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble.”

The head louse and lice outbreaks have snuck into our cultural literacy in ways that have confirmed Burns’ social verdict. The “louse,” as seen in the dictionary definition above, is synonymous with bad and cruel behavior. “Lousy” is defined as “very poor or bad, disgusting.” A nitwit is someone or something stupid, and a nitpicker is someone who is overly critical. And remember, every time you decide to go through something “with a fine toothed comb,” you are referring back to the most ancient of head-lice treatments.

Still, there are 6-12 million cases of head lice in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reporting of incidents tends to be erratic, with many parents hiding the condition from even their doctors, and others reporting anonymously through schools and day care centers. As a result, reliable data can be difficult to obtain. With lice developing resistance to insecticide-based treatments, research into topical cures has been slowed by a cloud of futility—head lice are evolutionary survivors and any new chemical cure could be relatively short-lived.

Thankfully, alternatives have been pursued, with recent success. In 2006, Larada Sciences, a U.S. medical-device manufacturer, developed AirAllé, the first FDA-cleared medical device clinically proven to kill not only head lice but 99.2 percent of lice eggs in children and adults. The device uses carefully controlled heated air to dehydrate head lice and eggs in a one-hour treatment in a medical clinic. Lice Clinics of America is proud to be the exclusive provider of the AirAllé head-lice treatment, and is rapidly adding new clinics throughout the world in response to growing demand.

Head lice are tenacious and tedious parasites, but they are not dangerous to human health and they are not related in any way to human hygiene. In fact, they are far more prolific on clean hair and scalps, because they have little resistance when follicles and skin are easily accessible. The fact that head lice are medically harmless doesn’t mean they are benign, as they can cause a great deal of discomfort and they can easily spread throughout a family or school. Call us to beat lice today! Lice Clinics of America in Northern Virginia (703) 303-1576.

Over 10,000 years of parenting

Over 10,000 years of parenting!

Pesticides are for plants! Mayonnaise is for sandwiches! We have what REALLY kills lice in Northern Virginia!

Options for Treating Head Lice here in Northern Virginia

When it comes to treating head lice, there have traditionally been three options: medications sold at drugstores; natural or home remedies recommended by other parents; and plain old combing and nitpicking.

There are challenges with all three. First, most drugstore lice products use a class of pesticides called pyrethroids to kill live lice. Most head lice in the United States and some other countries, have developed resistance to pyrethroids. Also, do you really want to be washing your child’s hair with a pesticide?

Home remedies are completely unproven. The most common recommendations are smothering a child’s head with mayonnaise or petroleum jelly overnight. Mayonnaise? Petroleum jelly? Really? These approaches are meant to suffocate live lice. “Natural” treatments recommended like tea tree oil can actually prove toxic if over-applied. Plus, tea tree oil stinks!

None of these methods, even if they were to be effective, kill eggs. Eggs are the trickiest part of lice treatment. They are extremely hard to see and remove, and if you miss one, the egg will hatch and you’ll have a fresh case of head lice on your hands.

This brings us to combing and nitpicking. This is a long and tedious process. As Health.com points out, “It’s best to approach lice as a war on many fronts: You need to use a variety of techniques to kill not only adult lice, but also their tiny eggs (called nits), which are glued to the hair shaft. The nits can survive treatments that kill the adults and vice versa (These bugs have evolved over a millennium to live in hair, so they’re tricky).”

What’s a parent to do? “It’s best to steel yourself for weeks or months of vigilance since lice can reappear due to repeated exposure or a missed nit.” Wouldn’t it be great if there was a treatment in Northern Virginia to get rid of lice in one hour? Good thing there is!

Fortunately, science has come to the rescue with a revolutionary medical device that kills live lice and eggs in a single treatment. Researchers at the University of Utah developed a device that kills lice by applying carefully controlled warm air to the hair and scalp, dehydrating live lice and eggs in a matter of minutes.

AirAllé Lice Treatment

The device, called AirAllé, has been through the lengthy FDA-clearance process where in clinical trials it was found to kill live lice and 99.2 percent of eggs. The AirAllé has now been commercialized by Larada Sciences of Salt Lake City and made available through a fast-growing network of Lice Clinics of America urgent care centers around the world.

Lice Clinics of America centers featured certified AirAllé technicians that deliver treatments that last about 90 minutes in most cases, and results are guaranteed.

Because the AirAllé device only uses heated air to kill lice and eggs, there are no harmful chemicals involved and no lengthy nitpicking process is required.

This sounds a lot more pleasant than pesticides or sleeping with a head full of mayonnaise.

Let’s leave pesticides in farms (maybe not) but keep them out of our hair. Let’s leave mayonnaise on sandwiches, which can be quite delicious. Let’s use science and medicine to treat head lice.

Parents, educators, and healthcare providers have embraced Lice Clinics of America as a fast, safe, effective lice treatment. They no longer have to steel themselves for weeks or months of battle using substances that have no business on a child’s scalp.

Don’t hesitate, don’t try an OTC! Call or text us today at (703) 303- 1576. Here at Lice Clinics of America in Northern Virginia we can treat your child’s lice in ONE HOUR. We guarantee treatment for 30 days as long as we check all family members. Cost per family is $25, and it is $189 per treatment, or $149 for hair less than two inches. Call us for more information about large families.

Shedding the light on lice here in Northern VA

Science and medicine have finally beaten head lice.

For most parents, the news that a child has head lice induces immediate panic. Lice are gross (actually, “disgusting” is the most common term we hear). To many, a lice outbreak means your house or your kids are dirty. You will have to notify the school. All the other parents will avoid you and your family. You’ll have to scour your home and spend hours each day treating and inspecting each family member’s scalp for weeks to come. Or you can call us, at Lice Clinics of America in Northern Virginia, and we can get rid of head lice in 1 hour, guaranteed for 30 days.

But wait. Before you take all your kids’ clothes and linens to the Laundromat and heave all the stuffed animals and backpacks into the garage, consider this.

There is a cure for head lice. And there is an answer to all the stress, shame and disgust associated with lice. There really is. But first let’s start with the root of the problem, it’s communication.

That’s right. Communication is the key to both lice prevention and treatment. We need to get lice out of the proverbial closet so that it can be addressed just like any other health concern.

Getting, treating and preventing head lice needs to come into the light of day. It is not something anyone should have to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Lice happens, just like most other health issues families face. Knowing the facts about what head lice really are, how they affect children’s and family’s health, how to remove them and prevent further cases can make the experience far less stressful and much less secretive.

We have treatment solutions for every budget. Our treatment starts at $149 for hair less than two inches, and $189 for long hair. We have at home treatment options that are about $30/person. In our office, treatment takes an hour and is guaranteed for 30 days. At home treatment takes about 2 weeks – and if you decide you can’t hack it at home, we will take off the cost of the Active Rinse towards your treatment price. All treatments we offer are non-toxic, pesticide free approaches to lice removal with a proven track record. We can offer same day appointments based on availability, and can always offer next day appointments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 6-12 million cases of lice reported each year in the United States. So you are not alone here in Northern Virginia. The reason for the large range is that many cases go unreported due to parent embarrassment while others are erroneously reported by overzealous officials at camps, schools and day care centers. The point is that you are not alone. The irony is that with this many incidences of lice happening every year, when parents find lice on their children, they still have no idea what to do, think or say.

Now lets put this in perspective. Some 16 million children are treated for ear infections each year, putting the number of incidences roughly in the same ballpark as lice outbreaks. When your child gets an ear infection, do you know what to do? Most parents do. Others ask for advice from their friends, parents and other people in their supporter networks. Yet parents of children with lice go into hiding. The result is a lack of collective wisdom on the treatment of head lice, as well as a lot of bad information that wastes peoples’ time and money. We are your head lice support network here in Northern Virginia. Please call or text us with questions or concerns anytime! (703) 303-1576.

At Lice Clinics of America- Herndon here in Northern Virginia, we’ve seen mothers devastated by lice outbreaks—afraid to go out in public in fear they will be ostracized, and worried that their children will be bullied. Think we’re kidding? Watch a video of Jennifer Garner explain how meeting George Clooney while the family was under going lice treatment may have gotten her booted from Clooney’s wedding. While this is a funny story, there are many others that are not funny at all.

It shouldn’t be this way. Head lice are a nuisance more than anything else, and every medical body from the American Academy of Pediatrics2  to the National Association of School Nurses3 have called for calm reactions to lice by parents, physicians, nurses and school administrators. In fact, most medical bodies now don’t recommend that kids should miss school due to head lice. Properly treated, it’s not that big of a deal. Lice does not spread disease, but it does put a mental and financial strain on those dealing with the problem.

Sharing facts, sharing experiences, de-escalating the fear and shame surrounding head lice can save parents, children and teachers a great deal of time and energy—energy that can better be invested in finding the right solution to address incidences of head lice. The “yuck factor” that drives parents into seclusion also results in “trial and error” treatment that extends the time and cost required to deal with a health condition that is really not at all dangerous.

The facts are that head lice are not as yucky as people think. They do not cause health problems, they do not spread through the air, they do not transmit any dangerous germs or viruses, and they do not indicate poor hygiene. On this last matter, the opposite is true—lice are attracted to clean hair and scalps because it is easier for them to move across clean surfaces to lay eggs and feed.

There are many options and preventative measures that can address head lice outbreaks and accelerate safe removal. There is also a great deal of misinformation, false claims and unproven products available.

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Updates-Treatments-for-Head-Lice.aspx

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Updates-Treatments-for-Head-Lice.aspx

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

It is the most wonderful time of the year!! Are you having fun traveling to see far off friends and family? Are you giving hugs, and cuddles and lots of holiday cheer? As you prepare for your visits, don’t let your vigilance against lice slip. After you leave your holiday events, this is the perfect time to check your children. You want to be sure they weren’t given the gift of lice this holiday season.

Why after the holidays? If you’ve been lucky enough to get through the start of the school year lice-free, Congratulations! But now you have moved out of your everyday environment. You have entered into another sphere of contact – family members who interact with other people you normally do not come in contact with. Many people do not notice that their child is infested until they see an actual bug. It usually is about 2-3 weeks until you notice bugs in your child’s head. After 2-3 weeks, the bugs are eagerly looking for new territory.

Did cousin Violet have a sleep over with her bestie last week? Now she’s giving a piggy back to your daughter. Did Aunt Emma treat herself and her daughter with OTC products last month? Did a few bugs survive treatment? Did she realize that OTC treatments are ineffective and that Violet still has an active case?

Of course, you don’t want to ban hugs and cuddles. Just be aware of the increased possibility of infestation and sit your kids down for a quick head check. Prevention and catching lice early increases the chance for successful at home treatment. And of course, you can always opt for our professional treatment services. We have options for every budget. Give us a call or text at (703) 303-1576 to discuss treatment options, or to get an appointment for lice treatment today!

Mother treating daughter's hair against lice. Selective focus

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