Head Lice in Ancient Times

There was once a time in history when head lice were ambiguous and shameful. Those who contracted head lice were deemed unhygienic and of the lower class. Kids teased their classmates and said they had cooties, without even knowing what a cootie is. Yes, that is where the term “cootie” came from because a cootie is a body louse. In this day and age, tables have turned. We now know that it doesn’t matter if your hair is dirty or clean. In fact, some research shows that head lice actually prefer a clean head of hair. Believe it or not, head lice go way back in history, to ancient times! Aren’t you grateful for the technology we have today to treat lice?

3,100-332 BC, Egypt

Head lice have been causing itching heads since ancient Egyptian times. Imagine living in a time with very little technology. We are lucky that we have the means to get rid of lice today. Many ancient Egyptians had head lice till the day they died — and that is actually how archaeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian lice remedies — through their mummified corpses.

Ancient Egyptian Lice Remedies

  • Digesting a portion of date meal and water, served warm and then spat out
  • Shaving the entire body so the lice had nowhere to live

There must have been a lot of bald individuals in ancient Egypt!

Ancient Egyptian symbols

8,000 BC, Brazil

According to archaeologists, the world’s oldest known head lice- actual nits discovered on a human head- were found at an archeological dig in northeast Brazil. They estimated that the specimen was at least 10,000 years old. Crazy huh? Head lice have been around for a long time. Lice have also been discovered in Israel dating back 2000 years. They were taken from hair combs.

Middle Ages Onwards

In the middle ages, humans couldn’t get away from lice. They were an unavoidable part of their life and lice didn’t discriminate; they infected all parts of society from serfs to royals. People in the Middle Ages took lice to their grave as well. They lived a life of itch, itch, itch!

1025, Peru:

In 2008, two 1,000-year-old Peruvian mummies were discovered with an abundance of head lice. One of the specimens had 407 lice on its head and the other had 545. Could you imagine? We sincerely hope you never have that many head lice crawling around your head but if you do, we can certainly get rid of it for you!

19th Century, U.S

If you happened to visit the U.S Wisconsin Historical Museum, you will be able to see a bone lice comb found in Fort Crawford, dating back to frontier days. These days, we have modern lice combs that are necessary for removing the lice eggs. Isn’t it crazy that we’ve been using the same method since the 19th century? The only difference is that it’s advanced immensely. It would be cool to see what the bone lice comb looks like. It probably has a slightly different style than the one we use today.

20th Century

1939-1945 Europe

Yepp, you guessed it — there were plenty of head lice infestations in the traumatizing trenches of WWII. Besides that, WWII was actually a rare time in history when head lice weren’t a big problem. “This was due to the common use of a potent pesticide designed principally to wipe out malaria-causing mosquitos but which had the added benefit of helping keeping head lice at bay.” This pesticide was extremely toxic, so it was not a long-term solution to head lice. Somehow the lice came back for future generations.


Homemade treatments have been popular since the 60’s as the spread of head lice has increased every year. These home remedies worked really well until the last few years. The reason for a decrease in home remedy success is that now, almost every state is infested with super lice and they are resistant to many pesticides and chemicals that were invented to kill head lice. In the 60s people often used harmful remedies such as gasoline on their child’s head. We definitely don’t recommend that!

21st Century

Head lice treatment has shifted from dangerous consumption of things to bone combs, to kitchen remedies, to medical treatments. In this day and age, the most advanced and effective treatment on the market is the AirAllé device that we use to treat head lice every day in our clinic. It uses controlled heated air to dehydrate head lice and their eggs.

With our advanced technology, you no longer have to take head lice to your grave.



Used as Reference: