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​​​Healthy Heads

All Natural Head Lice Removal Service

History of Head Lice

Head lice were documented as early as 8,000 B.C. In 2000, archaeologists found a nit on the hair of   a 10,000 year-old mummy in South America. In fact, as documented by Herodotus in 430 B.C., many Egyptian priests shaved their heads and their eyebrows every other day to eliminate head lice.

In 1909, Charles Nicolle discovered that the excrement of body lice transmitted epidemic typhus, a sometimes fatal disease often spread in close quarters such as prisons and refugee camps. Symptoms of epidemic typhus include chills, fever, delirium, dropping blood pressure, and high fever.

Nicolle learned that sterilizing the clothing of the infected person helped stop the spread of the disease. This method of prevention was used during World War I, but millions of people continued to die as a result of typhus after World Wars I and II. While we now think of a head lice infestation as a harmless annoyance, before the age of antibiotics, it was sometimes fatal.

From the 1950s to 1970s, the extensive use of DDT limited head lice infestations. After 1977, head lice cases began to resurface and were treated with a new chemical, Permethrin, the active ingredient in NIX. By the 1990s, several countries, including the U.S., reported that lice were resistant to Permethrin.

People continue to use commercial chemical treatments with mixed success today. In addition, within the last 10 years, salons that specialize in removing head lice have cropped up around the country, usually in large cities. Head lice infestations happen to a reported 6 to 12 million people a year, according to the CDC, and that only includes the number of reported cases; millions of cases may go unreported every year.

As a fun fact, many words in the English language today come from our experience with lice, including nit-picking, lousy, nitwit, nitty-gritty, and reviewing something with a fine-tooth comb.