Just about every day I talk to a mom who tells me her lice story. It goes like this, “My daughter was sent home from school last week with nits, she didn’t have any live ones, just nits (myth alert: you cannot ONLY have nits, you need lice to lay them in the hair. Nits do not transfer from one person to another). We did “the” treatment (as if there is only one out there) and we cleaned everything in the house. We washed all the pillows, blankets, we sprayed the furniture with the spray (some treatment kits come with a handy dandy pesticide you can spray all over your house which is both ineffective and unnecessary), we bagged all the stuffed animals and we’ve been washing everything in hot water every day(wait for it…) and I’m STILL seeing things in her hair!”
This mom, and millions like her, has suffered under the delusion that she can eliminate lice in her family by cleaning everything, using toxic pesticide sprays on everything her family touches, changing the sheets every day and bagging everything that isn’t nailed down. Upon further questioning I usually uncover the following:
- She has only visually checked remaining family members and has likely missed at least one other case in the family (and it’s most likely on HER head)
- She is using the drugstore variety nit comb, which I believe exists only to encourage the future purchase of lice removal products
Somewhere, probably on the Internet, she read the myth that you can clean your house and get rid of lice. What I always try to explain to the folks who call me is that lice don’t live in places or on things, they live on people. Human head lice do two things that we are absolutely aware of…they eat and they reproduce. Their food source is human blood and the only place they can get it is on a human head. Head lice live from the neck up (which should answer the OTHER question we usually get) on human beings. They lay their eggs on the hair shaft of the human host. They don’t live on dogs (even dogs with “hair”) because regardless of the type or quality of that hair, dogs are not human and their blood is different. Lice are species specific parasites.
If you want to eradicate a lice problem in your family you need to do ALL of the following:
- Check EVERY family member who has hair (bald dads get the buy here) with a good quality stainless steel nit comb for the presence of nits and/or lice
- Treat EVERY family member upon whom nits and/or lice are found properly. This means using something that eradicates all live activity and also removing all nits from the hair
- Do some common sense cleaning to eliminate the possibility of reinfestation from the home environment.
- Inform the social circles of all affected children, as well as School or Camp Nurses, after school activities (i.e. dance, martial arts, gymnastics, cheer, etc.)
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