Surprising Head Lice Myths

06Nov

It’s back to school season, which means that the incidence of head lice is likely to increase over the next few months. Head lice can be extremely irritating for children and parents and can result in embarrassment, sleeplessness and infections from excessive scratching. Unfortunately many myths and misconceptions circulate about lice and some of these prevent proper treatment. Here are 7 common myths about lice as well as some guidance on how to effectively eradicate them.

Lice can jump:

This is one of the most common myths about lice and has caused a lot of unnecessary worry and misunderstanding. Lice have no wings and are unable to jump – they can only move by crawling. This means that the only way to get lice is through direct head to head contact, not from mere proximity. Therefore isolating children with head lice or keeping them home from school is not necessary, as long as direct head to head contact is avoided.

Dirty hair encourages lice:

Having head lice is completely unrelated to personal hygiene and having clean hair will not prevent lice. Similarly, washing your hair with normal shampoo will not help to get rid of lice.

If a child is scratching their head, they must have lice:

Just like adults, children can suffer from an itchy scalp for a number of reasons, which are unrelated to lice. One of the most common causes of an itchy scalp amongst both adults and children is dandruff. If a visual inspection has not revealed any lice, it is possible your child is suffering from dandruff, which requires very different treatment. We suggest using a gentle natural formula to treat dandruff in children initially. At Chemistworks, our skilled pharmacists can assist you in determining the cause of your child’s itchy scalp and suggesting products to alleviate the issue.

Lice are more common in long hair:

Just like hair cleanliness, hair length has no effect on the likelihood of getting lice. Lice access blood through the scalp, meaning the length of the hair is not important to their survival. Long hair may make it more difficult to find and remove lice, but it is not more prone to becoming infected.

You can get lice from pets:

Head lice live exclusively on humans and will not live on animals. Fleas and lice are not the same.

Lice carry diseases:

Although they can be a major annoyance, lice are not very dangerous to health and have been proven not to carry diseases. The main danger they present to health is the risk of infection from excessive scratching and irritation of the skin.

Lice can live in furniture and carpet:

Although it was previously believed that lice could live in a variety of materials, meaning that the entire house needed to be treated, this has since been proven incorrect.  Lice cannot live very long away from a host, meaning that they are only likely to be found on items that have made recent direct contact with the head of somebody with lice or nits. We recommend soaking bed linen, hats and hair ties in hot water with an appropriate solution before washing them and hanging them out in direct sunlight.

Applying a lice treatment is enough to eradicate lice:

Many people will simply purchase a lice treatment solution, apply it, wash it out and expect the lice to be cured. While applying an anti-lice solution is a necessary aspect of any lice treatment plan, combing is also key to ending the life cycle of infestation. The comb is used to remove eggs from the hair, to ensure they don’t hatch and cause reinfestation. We suggest using a high quality comb such as NautraLice Nit Comb along with a combing solution for best results. This process should be repeated twice weekly, while lotion or foam lice treatments are repeated after seven days to kill any lice that have hatched since the last treatment.

At Chemistworks, our skilled team can help you to determine the cause of your child’s itchy scalp and suggest a treatment plan to suit their needs. Visit your local Chemistworks as we also have a Lice Clinic in-store.