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Hair dryers and head lice

Richard Speare Richard.Speare at jcu.edu.au
Mon Mar 17 21:36:34 EST 1997

Dear Lois

 On Mon, 17 Mar 1997 rneate at mum.edu wrote:

> Wondering if something simple like use of the heat cycle on hairdryer
> could prevent head lice. I would like to discuss this with someone
> knowledgeable about the temperature sensitivity of head lice.

A lot of work was done in the first half of the 20th century on the
temperature sensitivity of body lice and some on head lice.  Eggs of body
lice were killed by 53.5C for 5 min, 52C for 10 min, 50C for 30 min. 

If hair dryers have a role in killing head lice, a few key "therapeutic"
questions before one gets too hopeful are:

1. How hot does a hair dryer make the hair next to the scalp? 
2. How much heat and for how long can be tolerated by a lousy head?

If you want details on heat tolerance, I have many of the old papers on
louse physiology and can attempt to summarise them.


Rick Speare

Department of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
James Cook University

Phone:	-61-(0)77-225700
Fax:	-61-(0)77-225788
email:	Richard.Speare at jcu.edu.au

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