Three Things Parents Need To Know About Blow Dryers And Lice

Posted on: 5 October 2016

The usual treatment for head lice is to carefully remove lice and nits with a fine-toothed comb, but for parents of curly-haired kids, using one of these combs can be difficult. If you're having trouble getting the comb through your child's hair, you may want to try a more curly-hair friendly method, like your blow dryer. Here are three things you need to know about getting rid of head lice with a blow dryer.

How do you use a blow dryer to kill lice?

The blow dryer method needs to be performed on clean hair, so try this treatment after wash day. Divide your child's hair into multiple smaller sections to that you can ensure each section gets sufficient heat; use styling clips to hold the untreated sections out of the way while you work.

As you're blow drying, take care not to direct the heat at your child's scalp for too long as this can be uncomfortable or even cause burns. Start at the base of their hair and work down the length of the hair to evenly treat each strand. Continue in this manner until you've treated all of their hair.

How does this treatment work?

While a fine-toothed comb works by physically removing the lice and nits, the hair dryer method works by drying them out. Lice haven't evolved a resistance to heat, so they don't have any defences against this treatment.

For best results, it's important to have both a consistent temperature and a high air volume. Choose a hair dryer that has multiple speed settings so that you can ensure that the air volume is high, as well as an anti-overheating device that will keep it from turning itself off before you're done treating your child's hair.

How effective is this method?

A University of Utah study evaluated the effectiveness of this method for killing head lice and nits. They discovered that 30 minutes of blow drying with a handheld hair dryer was able to kill 97.9% of nits and 55.3% of lice. They found that bonnet-style dryers also work, just not as well. These dryers killed 88.8% of nits and 10.1% of lice. If you only have a bonnet-style dryer, you may want to buy a hand-held dryer to perform this treatment.

If your child has lice and their hair is too curly to use a nit comb, try treating their lice with a hair dryer.