Lice generally get a bad rap and although they are creepy, these parasites pose very little threat to their human hosts. The first thing that pops into many people's minds when they hear about head lice is that only unclean people get them.To get down to the real facts of head lice infestations, you've got to do your research. |
Lice are more annoying than they are dangerous. Contrary to popular belief, hygiene has nothing to do with head lice and nits. At worst, the bites may cause your scalp to become itchy and persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation or infection. The belief that lice leap from person to person is also incorrect. Lice are transferred by contact, either directly or through sharing items like a comb, hat, furniture or bedding. To check for lice, examine the scalp for live insects or head lice eggs on the hair shaft. Unless the infestation is heavy, it's more common to see nits than it is to see adult bugs crawling on the scalp. Lice are more likely to invade a child with very clean hair, as it is much easier for them to deposit their eggs on clean hair shafts than on less-than-clean ones.
Lice do not pick and choose their victims based on social status, either. A wealthy child is just as likely to get head lice as a child whose family is having financial difficulties. One thing that is true is that African Americans have a much lower chance of getting head lice because their hair structure is more difficult for lice to attach their eggs to. Also, the use of different hair tonics makes the hair less attractive to lice.
Lice do not present a public health risk. They are not dangerous, they are just obnoxious. Most schools will still send a child home if it is discovered the child has lice, but current research indicates that this is not the best practice as it removes the child from the learning environment for a non-health related reason.
There are a million rumored remedies for an infestation, but few of them actually work and some are just downright dangerous. Folks who believe in traditional treatment methods may tell you that gasoline or kerosene will kill lice. That may be true, but it will also kill the person you're using the treatment on! NEVER use gasoline or kerosene because the volatile fumes will combust. Some people believe that Vaseline will kill lice. Yes - petroleum jelly will smother them, but it won't destroy the nits. Also, it's almost impossible to get the greasy goop out of your hair.
The sad fact of head lice treatment is that it can be an exercise in trial and error. The insects sometimes develop resistance to pesticides, so you may have to experiment with a variety of lice treatments. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice on medicated lice products and use them precisely as instructed. If you don't, the product can either be ineffective or will burn your scalp. If you are unable to get rid of head lice and nits after two applications, speak to your doctor about trying another treatment.
For some reason, a case of head lice seems to bring out the witchdoctor in everyone. There's no need to shave your head, fumigate your house or walk around with a shower cap on your head. Using a good product to kill head lice and thoroughly cleaning your home is enough to control the problem. If you do get bugged by an infestation, stay calm and seek help from a doctor or pharmacist. You'll find that lice aren't as scary as you think.
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