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Magazine Issues

When Lice Invade Your World —The Facts of Lice

One of the most common and commonly misunderstood childhood ailments is pediculosis, the fancy word for head lice. Folk remedies, chemical and homeopathic treatments, and electric gadgets abound, as well as a misunderstanding of their efficacy. Navigating though the misinformation on the internet is enough to make one’s head spin in addition to itch! Here are facts to help you to knowledgeably and effectively deal with head lice.

Does My Child Have Head Lice?

The most common signs are: persistent scratching of the scalp; pearly white or brownish tear-drop shaped eggs (nits) firmly attached to strands of hair; sesame-sized (or smaller) wingless bugs with six legs that crawl rapidly through hair; pink rash behind the ears and at the nape of the neck, resembling an allergic reaction

How Did My Child Get Head Lice?

When hair from two heads overlap via head-to-head contact, we provide a bridge for lice to cross over — without even charging a toll! Lice do NOT jump or fly, but they do crawl rapidly through hair.

What NOT to do

Don’t panic! Head lice are annoying but not serious, and some people feel embarrassed by them, unnecessarily. It’s not a sign of uncleanliness at home or at school; in fact, they prefer a nice clean head to get a snack and raise a family. Don’t rush to the drugstore for over-the-counter preparations, as many of them contain ingredients that may be toxic to your child. Mayonnaise and vinegar are great in a salad, but resist the temptation to put them on your child’s head. Ditto olive oil or Vaseline—it’s really hard to smother all the lice and all you’ll get out of it is a nasty mess to clean up, and a humiliated child.

A Word About Chemical and Prescription Treatments

Talk to your doctor about the risks and limitations of certain pesticidal treatments containing chemicals like lindane, malathion, ivermectin, permethrin or pyrethrin. Pesticide treatments are designed to kill the bugs — not the nits, and head lice are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides.

What About the Family Dog?

Dogs do NOT harbor or spread human head lice. Same goes for cats. Ticks, perhaps; fleas, maybe but not lice.

No Such Thing as a Lice-Infested House

Lice depend on the 24-hour drive-through window of a human scalp for their meals and the cozy incubating qualities our plentiful hair provides. A rogue louse off the head can’t survive for more than a day or so. There is no need to quarantine household items, or sanitize the home. Washing bedding and recently worn clothes of affected family member in hot water, putting recently used hairbrushes or fabric hair accessories in a plastic bag and placing it in the freezer overnight are enough.

Michelle Lohrli, parent to a six-year old daughter, co-owns and operates Lice Happens, a mobile head lice removal service that guarantees success in one visit. For free advice or to find out more, contact Lice Happens at 702-800-9676 or