Head lice, dispel these false myths to learn how to better treat pediculosis and be able to eradicate these very unwelcome parasites
The school is now well underway and certainly many parents have already received the warning of sighting of lice . A lucky few have never had to deal with these tiny parasites that love to live in the hair and feed on the blood of our scalp.
If you notice that your son or daughter is constantly scratching his head and seems to be bothered by it, you can start to suspect. However, head lice are not easily visible to the naked eye. The best way to see lice and nits (the eggs they deposit on the hair) is to wet the hair and use the special comb: a very narrow-toothed comb, possibly made of steel, capable of detaching eggs and lice.
The first time you discover that you have children infested with lice, the shock and panic are completely normal. And it is true that it is impressive to know that small animals live, feed and multiply in our heads. Not to mention the discomfort and shame. But don’t panic! With a little patience and with the right weapons, lice can be eradicated and further attacks can be prevented.
It is important, however, to know the enemy well and above all not to be impressed by unfounded myths . False beliefs risk generating anxiety and shame and leading to discriminatory behavior.
- Those with dirty hair get lice
- Lice jump
- Head lice carry diseases and viruses
- Dogs and cats can pass lice to you
- Head lice are infected in the swimming pool
- Head lice are only caught in school
- Head lice survive for weeks on surfaces
- All lice die with treatment
- Chemical treatment is the only weapon
- Removal from school is essential
Those with dirty hair get lice
The first myth is about cleanliness. Many believe that only those living in poor sanitation are carriers of lice. But this is just a cliché. In fact, lice do not distinguish between clean hair and dirty hair. On the contrary: hair that is too greasy can be inhospitable because it makes attachment difficult. So if you are suffering from this plague you should neither feel dirty nor blame potential contagionists. Lice make no class distinction and move to where there is a beautiful head of hair in the midst of which to live and multiply.
Lice are unable to jump or fly. They move slowly crawling on their 6 legs. They can move from head to head thanks to close contact. They are not like fleas, so just being in the same room or talking to someone is not enough to catch them. However, they can remain attached to an item of clothing, such as a hat or scarf. Or, sleeping in the same bed, they may slip on the pillows. Therefore, as a prevention, it is best to avoid exchanging personal hair accessories. And if you learn that someone in the house has got lice, it is best to avoid sharing a bed, clothes and towels.
Head lice carry diseases and viruses
Fortunately, even if terribly annoying, lice do not carry diseases and viruses. Their bites cause redness, discomfort and itchiness. However, there are no other side effects. So, at least from this point of view, they are harmless insects.
Dogs and cats can pass lice to you
It’s not true. Dogs and cats have other parasites that can also attack people, such as fleas and ticks, but not lice. There are lice of dogs and cats, but they are different from those that attack humans. So, while it’s true that you need to make sure your dog is clean and free of parasites, you don’t have to fear it when it comes to lice!
Head lice are infected in the swimming pool
Head lice do not get infected in the pool because they know how to survive the abundant quantities of water. And this is why a shampoo is not enough to eradicate them. In fact, they manage to stick very well to the hair and go free diving for a long time. So don’t worry! Swimming will not be dangerous for you or your children.
Head lice are only caught in school
It is true that in schools it is more likely that there is a mass spread of lice: this happens because small children always play with their heads very close. It goes without saying that lice can be caught wherever there is close contact with the hair of others: at a sleepover, playing sports or camping.
Head lice survive for weeks on surfaces
This is also a false myth. In fact, lice need human blood to survive. On surfaces or fabrics they can last for a maximum of 2 or 3 days. However, if we discover that we have lice it is recommended to change the linen and wash it at a high temperature. After that it will be good to lay it out in the sun for a long time.
All lice die with treatment
Head lice, like so many other parasites, have learned to resist chemical treatments. In recent years , studies have shown that genetic mutations have occurred that allow them to be more resistant. In addition, nits often survive chemical treatment. So after the treatment it is advisable to use the anti-lice comb. And after three days repeat the check.
The life cycle of head lice showing eggs on hair shaft, hatching, moulting, mating and death of lice in human hair
Chemical treatment is the only weapon
As soon as you discover that you have lice, you immediately think about going to the pharmacy to buy a powerful and lethal pesticide for these hateful parasites. Yet these products, in addition to not always being 100% effective, can be harmful, especially for young children. For this reason it is always better to read the instructions carefully. But it is interesting to know that there are also other methods that do not involve the use of chemicals. There are in fact essential oils, but even these are not always harmless; the electric comb, capable of detecting lice and nits and picking them up with a slight shake (95% effective). In Italy and abroad there are now many anti pediculosis centersthat offer treatments that use the drying effect or suction. In both methods, after the treatment, the hair is combed for a long time with the comb to remove any potential survivors.
Removal from school is essential
False. Many schools have a zero nits policy. That is, if following a check it is discovered that some children have lice and nits, they are removed from school and returned only after the total elimination of the eggs.
Keeping children with nits (or lice) out of school is of no benefit and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has proclaimed that “anti-nit policies are unfair and should be abandoned “. In fact, this policy has not proved effective. In fact, the nits do not move and can also be mistaken for dandruff. This protocol can produce an unnecessary stigma on those who are turned away, not to mention the negative effects of being absent from class.
A general awareness of the importance of prevention would be far more effective , through the use of repellents, possibly natural and the frequent use of the scallop even without warning of the infestation.