The Truth About Lice
Head lice only live on clean hair
It is a popular myth that head lice only like to live on clean heads of hair. However, lice appear to be almost totally unselective and will happily infest clean, dirty, short or long hair with equal vigour.
It has been suggested in the past that people of African descent do not tend to catch head lice, but this is misleading. Although it is thought that some types of head lice find it more difficult to cling to very kinky hair shafts, there are other that prefer this hair type to that of Caucasians.
Only pesticides will get rid of lice
Although you can use pesticides to get rid of lice, it is not recommended and is completely unnecessary. As head lice can only survive for roughly 3 days without a human host, thoroughly de-lousing hair with a narrow-toothed comb and then giving your home a spring clean is all that is required. Vacuum carpets and furniture, and wash bedding, clothing and hair brushes to ensure there are no stray eggs in your home that may lead to a re-infestation.
Any items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as large stuffed toys, can be placed in a bin liner for 72 hours so that any remaining lice do not have the opportunity to feed.
Lice can jump from person to person
Fortunately, lice cannot jump, swim, fly or hop. Lice can only be spread by direct contact (touching heads) or occasionally by indirect contact. It is unlikely that head lice will be transferred by children using objects such as high backed chairs, but it is possible for them to be passed on via sharing combs, hats or bedding.
The idea that they can jump may have come from the transference of lice during hair brushing. When dry hair is brushed, a louse can sometimes become caught in the teeth of the comb and then flicked off by the static electricity generated during brushing. Due to this fact, it is good practice to only brush affected hair while it is damp as this will reduce the chances of a louse being flicked from one head to another.
Lice spread diseases
They may be itchy and embarrassing, but head lice actually pose very few health risks and will not cause long term discomfort as long as treatment is successfully completed. Head lice do not carry diseases and cannot transmit illnesses from one person to another.
The only complication that can arise from a lice infestation is the danger of a scalp infection caused by excessive head scratching. This means it is important to encourage children to avoid scratching their heads as much as possible.
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