I had lice when I was a kid. I was in 5th grade. I remember my mom scrubbing this horrible shampoo into my head and combing my hair for eggs and bugs. It was just as unpleasant for her finding a creepy crawly and killing it as it was for me to have my scalp used as a war zone.
I remember the sinking feeling that I felt when I returned to school, and all the kids had to be checked for lice. I whispered to the substitute teacher that I was the one who had it already, and she let me stay behind. To my horror, one of the other students noticed that I didn’t get checked. For some reason, I managed to escape being teased. I think I was terrified of being known as that “bug haired kid” for the duration of my adolescence. That’s a pretty reasonable fear, isn’t it?
Anyway, a friend of a friend (for real) is having problems with lice, and I heard that they were using every treatment imaginable to eliminate the buggies. Bingo. Time for some debunking!
I stole this advice from Harvard lice expert Dr. Richard J. Pollack. If you want answers that are more in-depth (such as how to specifically manage lice), you should probably go straight to the source. There’s also an NPR segment about lice that you can check out.
Lice can jump from head to head?
Lice can’t jump like fleas or ticks. Instead, they’ve evolved hair-grasping appendages, which they use to navigate the human scalp while they drink blood.
Lice spread mostly by hats and brushes?
While hats and brushes do pose a small risk of lice, they are not the typical way that lice spread from head to head. The reason for this is that lice can’t live much longer than a day without human blood. The most common way for lice to spread is hair to hair contact, which is why it’s much more typical for kids to get lice than adults.
Only filthy poor kids get lice?
Lice do not discriminate between rich children and poor children. It’s an equal opportunity parasite.
Kids with lice have to wash their hair with toxic bug poison?
The simplest way to eliminate lice in people with short hair is to remove the nits and the lice with a special comb. An over-the-counter shampoo with a chrysanthemum extract is an effective option, but lice are starting to evolve a resistance to them. You may have to find a prescription treatment that is more effective.
An alternative to poisonous shampoo are essential oils or suffocating agents like mayonnaise?
There is no evidence to back up the use of essential oils, vaseline, mayo, or suffocating agents to kill lice
Scalps with lice are crawling with bugs?
Ordinarily, a scalp infested with lice only has twelve bugs at any given moment. There are lots of dead and viable eggs, though.
Should I scrub, vacuum, and disinfect my entire house?
No. Just wash your sheets, towels, pajamas, plush animals, and car seat covers. Use hot water and dry them in the dryer. Also, wash combs, brushes, barrettes, and hats in hot water every day until the lice are gone.
Does shaving your head help any?
Yes, but it’s considered the nuclear option. There are much easier ways to eliminate lice.