Head Lice Awareness Month: National Pediculosis Association (HeadLice.org)
Management/Prevention Tips · Avoid Chemical Treatments · Order LiceMeister Comb
Source: The National Pediculosis Association (HeadLice.org)
Where do head lice come from?
Head lice do not come out of the air or from the ground. They are human parasites and have probably been here since the beginning of time. Desiccated (dried up) head lice and their eggs (nits) have been found on the hair and scalps of Egyptian mummies.
How are head lice spread?
Head lice can be spread whenever there is direct contact of the head or hair with an infested individual. Lice can also be spread through the sharing of personal articles like hats, towels, brushes, helmets, hair ties, etc. There is also a possibility of spreading head lice via a pillow, headrest or similar items. Head lice do not jump or fly and generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host. If a louse comes off the head and is left behind (i.e., on a pillow or head rest), it may be possible for the louse to infest another individual who places their head in that area.
When lice are in water, they go into a state of suspended animation but remain firmly locked onto the hair – literally hanging on for dear life. This is how they survive shampooing, rain, seawater and swimming pools.
How do you treat a home or school for lice?
Vacuuming is the safest and best way to remove lice or fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals or car seats – wherever someone with head lice may have rested their head. Pesticidal sprays are unwarranted and may pose personal and environmental hazards.
Use a nit-removal comb to check everyone. Even if lice are found on an individual, careful consideration should be given before deciding to use a lice killing treatment because each person has unique health vulnerabilities. Lice treatment products are potentially hazardous to health and should not be used “just in case” a child or family member has lice or in an effort to prevent them.
What product should I use to treat my child?
The NPA warns against the use of any chemicals designed to kill or destroy head lice in any individuals who have a pre-existing illness, including asthma and epilepsy. Those on medication, who have been previously treated for head lice, expectant mothers and nursing mothers should avoid chemical lice treatments. Wrapping the hair in plastic or a shower cap and putting the children to bed is a bad idea. It is also a source of potential harm to use a wrap with any of the pesticidal treatments (whether in bed or not) as it may alter its chemistry and absorption rates.
Effective screening and combing is the ultimate complement to whatever course of action an individual selects. Ultimately, it will always be the “parent power” behind the effort that makes the difference. All parents should screen their children regularly and before sending them into the group setting where helmets or headphones will be shared.
Manual removal of the live lice and nits is the safe alternative and a necessary component of any head lice treatment regimen. The NPA recommends the LiceMeister® Comb to enable families to screen often, detect head lice early and thoroughly remove lice and nits.