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Does Heat Kill Lice?

Does Heat Kill Lice?
Updated on 
April 9, 2017

Does Heat Kill Lice?


kill head lice with hair dryer heat

you discover you or a family member has head lice, your first move is often to head to the internet. After a quick search confirms your findings and diagnosis of head lice, your next move is probably to search for the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to get rid of these unwelcome visitors. Since pesticide lice treatments continue to lose their effectiveness, families are increasingly more open, and in search of, natural treatments that can be completed at home. One of the more common natural treatments for head lice, and ways to rid the home of head lice, is the use of heat, by way of a hair dryer, straightener, hot water or clothes dryer. Does it work?

Can Heat Kill Lice?

According to the CDC, it is possible to kill head lice with the use of heat. However, killing lice with heat either on furniture or clothing, or by way of a lice heat treatment, is not so straightforward. Lice are hearty creatures and the eggs that they lay (nits) have a very tough shell that can not be penetrated. The temperature needed to kill head lice is 130 degrees Fahrenheit which you may not want aimed at your child’s head. This temperature needs to be sustained for a minimum of five minutes to kill lice. Lice heat treatments are not recommended for at home or for young children.  Source: CDC.gov 

Does Hot Water Kill Lice?

hot water kill lice nits hot tub shower washer

Can hot water kill lice? Yes on clothes but no on the head; do not expect head lice to be affected by your every day hot shower or standard warm wash in the washing machine. While it is not necessary to eradicate a lice infestation, laundering clothing or bedding in hot water can kill lice as long as the water temperature reaches one hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit and stays that temperature for a minimum of five minutes. In terms of treating a head lice infestation on a person with hot water, this is not recommended,; in fact, we strongly discourage it because of the danger it poses. The United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health indicates that a person can get a serious burn from just three seconds of exposure to a 140 degree Fahrenheit temperature. Imagine what five minutes of exposure to 130 degrees will do. The risks outweigh any potential benefits of attempting to kill lice on a person’s head with hot water. Do NOT try this. 

Do Hair Dryers Kill Lice?

If you were wondering can a hair dryer kill lice, or will a hair dryer kill lice, the answer not practically speaking. Since most hair dryers reach temperatures from 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit they may have the ability to kill head lice, but you will likely be burned. Keep in mind that in order to kill lice, the temperature needed to kill them must be sustained for at least five minutes. When is the last time you dried part of your hair for five minutes straight – much less your entire head?  We urge you NOT to use a hair dryer to kill lice. These heat methods are fraught with risk and there are far safer ways to kill head lice. 

How To Use Hair Dryer For Lice

how to kill head lice with heat hair dryer

We can not emphasize enough not to try to use a hair dryer to kill lice in your own.  Likely, you have washed and dried your hair at least a few times before you discovered you had head lice. So you can see that normal every day showering and use of hot air devices on your hair will have no noticeable effect on an active lice infestation. Despite our admonition, some people do try to use a lice hair dryer. They use a hair dryer for lice removal even though we tell them it may cause burns and it likely won’t be effective.

We do not recommend this lice treatment method for a number of reasons. Because the bugs (lice) are mobile, they will run from the heat being produced from the dryer.They they will likely not end up dying during the course of this process, so you will be wasting time and exposing your family to potential burns or heat rash.

heat treatment side effects risks burn children

Getting rid of lice by using a hair dryer for lice removal is not practical and would be near impossible. As you can likely tell, it would be easy to miss a couple of eggs. Just two viable eggs left in the hair will start a lice infestation all over again. Frankly, we have treated hundreds of thousands of families and no one has ever employed a heat treatment method at home.

There are professional salons that use this treatment method. One of the more popular treatment options on the market today is  AirAlle, which is performed in lice removal salons and uses hot air to treat head lice infestations. This treatment can be found in Lice Clinics of America. This procedure is performed by a person who has been trained to use a specific hot air device to kill lice. Despite this, there are still risks to individuals receiving this treatment. Source: Airalle.com These risks extend to those who have sores or wounds on their heads, those who have received radiation treatment, and clients who are unable to sense pain and communicate their discomfort. In addition, the risks noted indicate that the safe use of the device has not been confirmed for children under the age of four. Another caveat to the service is that live bugs may still be present after treatment and a comb out of the hair is recommended.  

Another downside to using this lice treatment is the cost. The average cost of a hot hair treatment at a Lice Clinics of America salon is $149-$199 per person. For a family of four people with lice infestations, the cost is between $600-$800. That’s a lot of money, especially when you consider that you still need to do the comb out process on your own as a follow-up.

At LiceDoctors, we skip the potentially risky part of treatment (heat!) and go directly to the effective part: the comb out. LiceDoctors treatments have the highest success rates and the cost is usually a lot less than heat lice killing treatments and safer! For the same four people, the average cost of lice treatment with us is under $400.

is heat treatment worth the cost expensive

While we don’t recommend heat treatments at all, before opting to treat yourself with a heated device, if a professional service carries risks in a controlled setting, consider is it worth trying to do this on your own, especially for the novice? In addition, do you want to continue treating yourself repeatedly at home for weeks? Is it worth the risk of passing the infestation around during the time you are treating yourself over the course of a month or more? Would it not be more prudent to just treat head lice by way of good old fashioned combing and nit picking?

LiceDoctors supports the method advocated by the National Pediculosis Association.... combing and hand picking nits and bugs from the hair. Treating lice is a labor intensive process for which there are no short cuts and for which experience matters! A lice expert has the tools and know how to find, identify, and eliminate lice and nits (lice eggs). When you call LiceDoctors, the treatment with your professional lice technician is completed on the entire family in the comfort and privacy of your home in just one visit. We recommend everyone is treated at the same time as everyone treated by your lice technician will no longer be contagious when the technician leaves your home. Unlike hot air lice treatments, there are no risks associated with lice treatment from LiceDoctors.

Avoid missing work and school and the potential embarrassment of being sent home from school again due to no nit policies. The protocol used is all natural, non toxic, and safe for everyone in the family, this includes infants to elderly and everyone in between with no exceptions. To make sure that your lice infestation is eradicated, call LiceDoctors today at 800-224-2537.

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