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Although lice infest up to 25 million Americans annually, relatively little common knowledge exists about these parasites. The following facts dispel numerous misconceptions and urban myths about head lice:
- Head lice prefer clean scalps.
Many parents believe that because their household and children are clean, they are less susceptible to facing lice infestations. In fact, however, lice are attracted to clean scalps, where the insects spend their entire lifetime. Despite cleanliness, everyone is susceptible to a head lice infestation.
- Head lice do not infest household animals.
Human Head lice only infest Humans. Regardless, household pets such as dogs and cats cannot contract an infestation. In turn, household animals are not carriers of head lice. Head lice are most typically spread through direct, head-to-head contact. For this reason, children are particularly at risk for infestations. Through normal play, like cuddling and close proximity activities, lice can rapidly assume new hosts.
- Head lice are wingless.
Contrary to some myths, head lice cannot fly. In fact, these insects cannot jump, either. Head lice boast six legs with tiny claws. Using these claws, head lice travel quickly from hair shaft to hair shaft. However, the claws are only effective on the scalp. For example, even on stable surfaces, head lice have a difficult time maneuvering.
- Head lice can only survive on the human scalp.
Head lice are parasites, and feed on human blood four to five times a day. Unlike other common parasites like fleas and body lice, head lice cannot survive on carpets or clothing, or bedding. In addition, head lice spend their entire lifecycle on the human scalp.
- Over-the-counter lice treatments might be dangerous.
Referred to as pediculicides, shampoos and cream rinses are the most commonly used lice eradication products. However, these products contain pesticides and insecticides, and must be carefully administered. If left on the scalp for too long, children might be overexposed to the chemicals. In addition, pediculicides might result in allergic reactions, such as rashes or burning. Some serious neurological side effects have also been reported in some children, including seizures.
- Head lice are forming immunity and resistance to drugstore shampoos and creams.
Researchers at The Harvard School of Public Health have confirmed that head lice are forming resistance to pediculicidal shampoos. Entomologists warn that all insects can form immunities to insecticides over time. According to experts, the resistance of head lice to common treatment methods is a form of survival of the fittest, where a species slowly evolves. Such immunities occur gradually, and a product that works in some areas may become obsolete in others.
- Smothering agents are as effective as shampoos in killing lice.
Smothering agents such as butter, Vaseline, and olive oil literally smother lice by clogging their breathing holes. Olive oil is scientifically proven to be the best smothering agent available. Other smothering agents, like butter and mayonnaise, spoil easily and have a repelling smell. Some, like Vaseline, are difficult to remove from a child’s hair. By contract, olive oil is safe and all natural. When properly applied, olive oil effectively kills lice and nits. The substance also conditions hair and makes nit removal easier. Unlike shampoos, olive oil has little, if any, known side effects.
Still scratching your head over lice infestations? Follow the blog header to learn more from the experts at Liceinfo.net!