LICE OUTBREAK! If you’re a parent, in all likelihood you’ll hear these dreaded two words somewhere along the line. The first thing NOT to do is panic! Take a deep breath and avoid the 3 most common mistakes most of us make …..
DON’T assume your child has an active infestation
Before running off to the drugstore to spend $30-$60 on a lice kit, go home and literally inspect you child’s head with a good nit comb. Comb the hair from root to end to capture live lice and/or eggs. It has been found that using a nit comb is four times more effective than a visual inspection at identifying head lice and/or nits.
Because lice are so hard to see, very few lice diagnoses are based on sightings of live bugs. Usually nits are discovered first and nits can be easily confused with dandruff, dirt, or sand. In order to distinguish nits from dirt and dandruff take a good look at its shape. Lice eggs and nits are oval shaped (they appear to have a tiny tail which is actually the glue substance the mother uses to attach them to the hair) and are attached at an angle along the hair shaft. Viable eggs are found close to the scalp and are often found on the nape of the neck and behind the ears. Eggs and nits are stuck to the hair shaft and will not come off easily. Pulling with your fingers will not work, you’ll need to get behind it with your nails and force it off. If you can easily remove what you think is a nit, then it is not really a nit.
If you’re still not sure-give us a call for a thorough screening.
DON’T pour lice shampoo all over your child’s head
Most OTC and prescription lice treatments are not innocuous. They are pesticides that you put directly on your child’s head and leave there for quite some time. Many popular drugstore products contain pesticides that consumers are generally advised not to get on their skin. In addition, it has been widely publicized that lice have developed resistance to many of these products.
Do not treat your child “just in case” or because a family member or friend has lice. Once an infestation is confirmed there is no reason to use harsh chemicals to remove head lice. Better, non-toxic options are available.
We can rid you of lice here in the clinic, or you can do it with our professional DIY kit. Either way, the treatment will be effective, safe, non-toxic and pesticide free.
DON’T go into house cleaning overkill
Lice do not want to leave the head! The human head has the climate (right temperature) and the sustenance (human blood) that lice need to survive. Off the head lice can only survive 24-48 hours. Eggs are incubating close to the scalp. If a hair strand sheds with an egg attached, it most likely will never hatch. If it does hatch it will not survive. Lice are typically spread between individuals only through head to head contact. They don’t fly or jump; they only crawl. Live bugs crawl from head to head, but eggs remain stuck to the hair until they hatch. You are not going to get head lice from your couch or your bed because they do not bury themselves in furniture waiting for their next victim. This means that it’s not necessary to wash your infested kids’ sheets every day for weeks after treatment, or put their toys and stuffed animals in plastic bags for months. No, lice cannot live in barbie’s hair or on household pets.
Don’t waste your time and energy with excessive cleaning and laundering. Save your money on pesticide sprays, they are unnecessary. Lice can be, but are only rarely spread through combs, brushes, hats, pillowcases, sheets, etc. Researchers have concluded that the control of head lice should focus on the head, not on the environment. One study found that live lice were found on only 4% of pillowcases of infested volunteers.
So what should you do in the house?
Think in a 48hr window and address items that the infested person came in contact with – clothing, stuffed animals, pillows, etc. Place items in the dryer on high for 30 minutes, or simply put them away for a couple of days.
- Vacuum the house and sofa
- Wash & dry bedding where the infested person has slept (high heat for 30 minutes in the dryer)
- Pour boiling water over brushes/combs or put them in a baggie in the freezer overnight
Avoiding these common mistakes will greatly reduce the thousands of unnecessary pesticide treatments each year;
and God knows how many unnecessary laundry loads!