After a visit to my daughter’s friend’s house for a party, she says, “Mommy. ____’s mom told her not to tell me something, but she did tell me.” A few thousand scenarios quickly sweeped across my mind and I casually said, “Oh really? Well, you know that you can tell me anything.” And then, she calmly said, “She has lice.” Ah! The dreaded,anxiety-producing, blood -loving parasite! I reassured her that she would likely escape getting lice, this time, because I was sure that her friend was already treated. (scratch, scratch) Of course, I had to then convince myself. Here are some debunked myths about lice.


Lice only like dirty kids
The truth is, head lice infests the clean kiddos as well. Anyone can get head lice. Kids with curly hair, greasy hair, conditioned hair and even in hair sprayed with hairspray! Kids who live in clean homes and dirty homes, aflluent areas and not so affluent areas.

Lice carry diseases and can spread them
Lice do not infect us, they infest us. They are more like a pest then say a tick or a mosquito (which can actually infect us with disease causing bacteria or viruses).

Lice can hop from head to head
Not true. Lice crawl. They only transfer with direct contact, usually head to head. Occasionally, through shared hats, pillows, helmets, but that is less likely. They are not transmitted through infected pets.

Lice can be killed with mayonnaise, vinegar, tea tree oil, vaseline or olive oil
Studies do not link any of these or any other home remedies to killing lice or their eggs effectively. Treat with an over the counter or prescription pediculoside. Note that in some cases the lice may be resistant to a particular over the counter formula and so a prescription may still be needed. Treat all affected household members as well as anyone who shared a bed with an affected person. Repeat the treatment 7 days after the initial treatment IF any live lice are seen. It takes about a week for any surviving nits (eggs) to hatch. Combing out the nits with a fine tooth, metal comb is recommended after most treatments. No lice lotion/shampoo is 100% ovicidal (able to kill all of the eggs).

If lice moves through my house, I need to throw out all of my blankets, pillows and clothes
Nope. Machine wash and dry clothing, sheets, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.

My child should stay home from school until all nits and lice are gone
No! 6-12 million kids get lice every year! They should be treated and return to school (where they likely got the lice anyway) even if nits are still present. Comb the nits out every few days as directed. Many schools still have a “no nit policy” which causes undue anxiety, unnecessary treatments and results in kids playing catch up with schoolwork unecessarily. Add in the fact that a parent may have to miss work or pay for childcare and you can see how much of a nuisance this is. Many schools have this outdated “no nit policy”.

Other lice tidbits: Are you scratching your head yet?

-They only live off of the scalp for 24 hours because they need our blood and warmth to survive.
-Not all of us scratch when we get lice. Only if you are allergic to the saliva. So do lice checks on your kiddos often.
-Lice only attack humans. You can’t give it to your cat or dog lice.
-Females can lay 10 eggs daily, usually 1/4 inch from the scalp.
-Do not wash your child’s hair for 2 days after treatment.

Happy Combing!
We all go through it. You will survive even if the lice do not!

Dr. S