Giving New Meaning to the Phrase “Dad Needs to Stop Bringing His Work Home with Him”

April 24, 2007 @ 1:54 pm | Filed under:

In my almost twelve years of motherhood, my kids have had head lice twice. Oh, the agony. The combing, the vacuuming, the laundry, the shampooing, the endless rounds of nitpicking, morning and night. Beanie’s head alone is a nitpicker’s worst nightmare: all those glorious curls sproinging away from the teeth of the comb!

Please, please, never again.

The shampoos don’t work all that well anymore, you know. American lice have developed a resistance to the chemical in over-the-counter lice shampoos. And the more potent prescription stuff? That drug may be more effective, but it’s a potent neurotoxin. I didn’t care how many hours I had to spend battling the infestation the hard way, removing each individual nit with a pair of tweezers; there was no way I was going to swathe my children’s heads with poison.

Well, now it looks like there’s a solution that trumps both poison AND tweezers. My friend Sarah, who witnessed the nightmare of our first infestation and, afterward, still let my kids play dress-up at her house, which is one of the highest marks of friendship, if you ask me, knew I would be interested in this recent development in head-lice treatment.

University of Utah
biologists invented a chemical-free, hairdryer-like device – the
LouseBuster – and conducted a study showing it eradicates head lice
infestations on children by exterminating the eggs or "nits" and
killing enough lice to prevent them from reproducing.

The study – published in the November 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics ­
"shows our invention has considerable promise for curing head lice,"
says Dale Clayton, a University of Utah biology professor who led the
research and co-invented the machine.

"It is particularly effective because it kills louse eggs, which
chemical treatments have never done very well," he says. "It also kills
hatched lice well enough to eliminate entire infestations. It works in
one 30-minute treatment. The chemical treatments require multiple
applications one to two weeks apart."

Thirty minutes! Good grief! That’s less time than I had to spend calling around and warning friends and neighbors when my kids got infested. (Not a fun series of phone calls to make, let me tell you. Ugh, this whole post is giving me itchy flashbacks.)

Of course, it’ll be a while before this magic machine hits your local pediatrician’s office:

Patents are pending on the LouseBuster technology, which Clayton hopes
will be on the market within two years for use in schools and

So don’t go swapping hats just yet.

The end of the article cracked me up:

Some of the scientists’ relatives got infested during the study.
Clayton’s kids, Mimi and Roger, volunteered to be infested with lice
and then were treated successfully.

"They like to shock their friends by telling them they served as
guinea pigs in their dad’s research," Clayton says. "I’m waiting for
the authorities to show up. They haven’t yet."

Another researcher had a relative participate involuntarily. In the
study’s acknowledgements, Atkin says he "wishes to apologize to his
wife (again) for accidentally giving her head lice.

I don’t know what’s funnier: the dad infesting his kids ON PURPOSE (what an expression of faith in one’s father—Sure, Dad, release a horde of bugs on my noggin!) or the other guy infesting his wife by accident. "Um, honey, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, if my invention works, it’s going to make us a fortune. The bad news is, you’ll have to be next in line to use it, because, um, that little itch? It could be telling you something…"

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13 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Liz in Australia says:

    Too funny!

    We’ve only had lice once here, and my eldest LOATHES having her hair brushed, so in the end the only thing we could do was shave her head. I’ll be happy if we don’t have to do that again in a hurry…

    Lesser exposure to lice is a reason for homeschooling in itself, I think!

  2. Sherry Early says:

    We’ve only had them once, but I want one of those Louse-Busters now to keep around just in case. It’ really was a nightmare.

  3. Danielle says:

    Okay. Thanks very much for this. We’ve never had the little buggers but I am now itching all over.

  4. Cay in La. says:

    Only one child and only once…and that was a nightmare in itself…especially since we were camping up in Missouri in a pop-up camper with no bathroom, no tub, no shower. I remember sitting by the lake picking these little skinflints out of my dd’s loooong hair. Did I say long?

    Grandma firmly believes in the old-way of eliminating these creatures: smother them in Vaseline gel then place a swimmers cap or curler bag (she even used a freezer bag held intact with a rubber band on my nieces’ heads), over the jelled hairdo and keep on head overnight. It smothers the little mites and they die a quiet death. In the morning you’ll see plenty of dead wooly-buggers inside the cap and the rest will simply wash down the drain…as soon as you rinse the Vaseline out of your child’s loooong hair. 🙁

    For that measure of success, go to Danielle’s website:

    Sorry it isn’t the quickest way, but I can guarantee that it is guaranteed to work. And it’s safe. 😉

  5. JoVE says:

    If you don’t mind whether they are dead before you comb them out there is a method that works with (or maybe against) the reproductive cycle and means you can just get the actual lice and not worry so much about the nits. I blogged about it here

  6. Theresa says:

    Oh, great. Now I am itching all over!
    Thanks alot, Lissa!LOL!

  7. Terrillyn says:

    My daughter could find lice any where in a 10,000 mile radius. If anyone in that radius had lice – my poor Jenni did. What a mess! Dhe had a ton of hair and it was very long – mid waist. Every little nit had to be remove from all those tresses before she could re-enter class. They even made her sit on the steps in front of the school so she wouldn’t infect any other students – JustaAnother reason to homeschool

  8. Jennifer says:

    Ugh! Flashbacks to teaching school and doing lice checks – yuck! How we’ve never been infected I’ll never know.
    Itching here…

  9. Kristen Laurence says:

    Hilarious! I can’t imagine having to find all those bugs in those gorgeous curly locks! You surely must have felt like Supermom after that episode!

  10. Shelley says:

    I got the heebeegeebees just reading your post. Don’t think I’ll be volunteering for that experiment, in fact, you couldn’t pay me to do it!

    I’m glad they’re coming up with something. I know anytime I ever heard it was going around, I put hair gel in my boy’s hair so that the lice wouldn’t like it.

    It either worked or we just got lucky, because so far, we’ve never had that nightmare.

  11. Kathryn says:

    We have had the plague more times than I like to recall (headlice are rampant here because schools are not allowed to notify parents of outbreaks or take any steps to deal with infested children, and as in the US they are resistant to all known chemical methods of extermination!). Here is a reasonably painless, safe way to get rid of them: put loads of hair conditioner i
    onto wet hair; comb through with a fine toothed nit comb; wipe the comb on kleenex after each stroke until no more nasties are visible; repeat every 2-3 days. After about two weeks they should be gone. The conditioner makes the hair slippery so they can’t cling on. You have to repeat enough times to make sure you get any new lice as they hatch out so that they can’t grow into big lice and lay eggs :-/.

  12. Alice Gunther says:

    I am crying, I am laughing so hard. What a hilarious bit at the end.

  13. beth says:

    Next time we get lice (that is how optimistic I am, huh?), we will use the cetaphil treatment.