9 things you never knew about head lice
1. They're fast
Head lice run very fast and can quickly hide if disturbed, so you can't rely on just parting your child's hair to check for them. A comb and conditioner method is really the only reliable way to detect them. Here's how: apply conditioner (like Euky Bear Blitz Nitz Detective) on damp hair and seperate into 4-5 sections. With a fine tooth comb, very carefully comb through each section from root to tip, cleaning the comb on some paper towel as you go. Any lice will get caught in the conditioner and be easily visible on the paper. Consider making this a weekly ritual (perhaps in the bath on a weekend) when you know there's an outbreak at school.
2. A one-off treatment rarely works
At the time you discover an infestation, head lice can be present at all different stages of their life cycle - from an egg, to a teenager, all the way up to an adult louse. If you're very dilligent one treatment may eradicate all the hatched lice, but some of the harder-to-kill eggs - called 'nits' - can remain (their hard shell is impenetrable to many treatments). These nits will hatch a week or two later leaving some to think their child has caught lice "again", when in fact, it's the same infestation. The best solution is to treat three times. First, on day one, then again on day 7 and a final time on day 14 to truly break 'the life cycle'.
3. 'Nit picking' was literally a thing
Up until the 1940's, before the introduction of pharmaceutical treatments, lice were kept under control by nurses and nannies who sat children down and literally picked the nits out. The term we use today for nagging, "nit picking", comes from this practice.
If you're into nit picking, fortunately today there's an easier way! Find out about the Blitz Nitz Nitview LED comb, with a light that makes lice glow flourescent.
4. They hate essential oils
Some essential oils, like tea tree oil and lemon eucalyptus, have natural lice-detterent properties. A great way to use the power of essential oil is with a leave-in conditioning spray such as Blitz Nitz Spray and Defend. It deters lice for up to 8 hours, making it less stressful sending your child to school or daycare when you know the critters are going around.
5. Head lice can't jump - or hop, or fly
No, you won't find head lice "hopping" from head to head - they don't have wings, or knees! But they are quite the circus performers, because the way they transfer from head to head is by trapeze - they literally swing from one hair to another, transfering with just the briefest contact. One of the reasons toddlers and preschoolers have more frequent lice infestations is their tendency to play with heads close together - this lessens as they get older. Always encourage your children to keep their head away from their friend's and tie up hair so there's less opportunity for this not-so-caring sharing.
6. You don't need to boil your sheets
Many people treat pillows, bedding and hats when their child has lice. This isn't strictly necessary - head lice are parasites and will die fairly quickly when not in contact with the scalp. However, if your children share a bed with you or other siblings, or you just want to treat fabrics for peace of mind, a quick way to ensure all the bugs are gone is to wash on a warm or hot cycle with a few capfuls of eucalyptus oil added to the wash. It has natural mitecidal and insecticidal properties and will leave hats and bedding smelling nice and fresh too. Leave to dry out in the sun if possible.
7. Head lice like it behind your ears the best
When applying a head lice solution it's important to cover every strand of hair from the tip to the root, because head lice can be anywhere on the hair strand. However, there are two particular "hot spots" where you should be particularly vigilant. These are right at the scalp, particularly the base of the scalp, where head lice tend to lay their eggs (they attach to the very base of the follicle), and behind your ears. Why behind the ears? It's nice and warm there!
8. No, redheads are not more prone to lice
... Nor are girls, or those with curly hair, or dirty hair or long hair or thick hair. Lice are equal opportunity blood suckers, and they like all types of scalps of any description. No matter what anyone says, catching lice is more to do with opportunity, environment and play habits than hair type. Lice are not fussy about cleanliness either, so you can have the squeakiest clean, daily shampooed child on the block and they will still catch them. Adults do tend to catch lice less often simply because they're not in contact with carriers and don't play in close contact like children do. But ask any daycare worker - adults can (and do!) catch them too.
9. Lice make you popular in some parts of the world!
Here's an interesting fun fact - in the remote tribes of the Satawal Island in Micronesia, it's a good thing to have head lice. Almost everyone does. In fact, it's so common that it's considered a sign of low social status if you don't. Those who are unfortunate enough not to be infested try to catch lice from others and put them on their own heads, as they don't want to miss being a part of the elaborate hair grooming rituals that form part of the group's culture.
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