Learning that your child or family is experiencing a lice infestation can be a shudder-worthy and horrifying thing for anyone to discover, but the reality is that not only are head lice extremely common, they are also completely harmless. Annoying, but harmless.
Often wrongly associated with poor hygiene and filthy living conditions, there are many other falsehoods surrounding the how and whys of contracting head lice. Below are some of the most common myths about head lice and the reality behind each untrue belief.
1. Head Lice Happen to Dirty People—
When many people picture the victims of head lice, they picture unwashed, filthy children, or people who don’t bathe as often as they should. But the reality is actually the opposite: head lice prefer clean, freshly-washed hair to oily hair, or hair coated in products.
For this reason, many parents choose to put mousse, de-tangling gel or other hair-coating products into their children’s hair before school every day. Lice are repelled by unnatural smells and oils covering the hair follicles and scalp, and will seek clean hair first.
So if head lice happens to your family, don’t feel stigmatized. You were just too squeaky-clean for the lice to resist!
2. Lice Can Leap—
When we think about bugs, we picture flying, jumping little critters, but lice are actually slow and can only crawl from head to head via direct contact. So unless your child hugs or leans against a pal with lice, they should be spared.
Lice can also crawl onto clothing and move onto another scalp this way, so teach kids to avoid sharing hats, scarves and jackets with friends at school to lessen chances of group infestations.
3. Lice Equal Disease—
The word “parasite” strikes fear into the hearts of many, but lice don’t actually spread disease, only itchy annoyance. They are considered a very minor problem by doctors, and one that can be easily remedied with the right treatment and maintenance.
The only thing lice cause is scalp irritation, and as long as you eliminate the lice using the proper shampoos, medications or treatments, this too will heal and go away along with the lice.
4. Homemade Lice-Killing Remedies Always Work—
Studies have shown that the over-the-counter face cleaner Cetaphil works to kill lice when applied to wet hair and then blow-dried until dry and stiff, but the heat can hurt the sensitive scalp of a child.
There is only anecdotal evidence and no scientific proof that coating hair with products such as olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, or tea tree oil to suffocate the lice will work, but as long as it doesn’t hurt the scalp, there is no harm in trying homeopathic remedies. Just remember that some natural oils aren’t safe for children, and don’t count on them to be effective.
5. Head Lice are Invisible to the Naked Eye—
Although they are small and hard to see without magnification, head lice can be as large as a sesame seed, and can be seen crawling slowly along the scalp and hair follicles.
The neck area and behind the ears are the most common places for lice to hang out and lay eggs, so check there first.
If you have a lice infestation in your home, don’t panic. You are in no danger, and it is entirely possible to eliminate these annoying pests permanently with simple hair medications, bedding and clothing washed in hot water, and re-treatment if you don’t get them all in the first try. Be patient, be diligent, and your family and home will be lice-free in no time.
Briana Cameron is a professional blogger and marketing expert. Currently she is writing for Lice Squad Canada, and not just the Head Lice Toronto Clinic, but all Lice Squad Clinics across Canada.