Lice Spies be a friend and tell a friend

Be a friend and tell a friend!

Telling your friends, family and other social network that you have lice is a difficult thing to do.  Unfortunately, the stigma of head lice is real.  People are surely going to be mad and blame you, probably think you’re dirty (lice myth!), and potentially ostracize you and your loved ones.  Right?  It’s so much easier to just quietly deal with it to save yourself from humiliation and ridicule.

While it might appear to be easier, you risk the chances of reinfestation, not once, but multiple times if you are forced to enter into the same environment where you got lice in the first place.  Continually dealing with a lice infestation is far worse than just telling folks from the get go, and ensuring your environment is lice-free.

Julia…

Let’s look at the case of Julia (name and details have been altered for this example).  Julia is 15 years old, attends high school and participates on her school’s swim team.  Julia and her team traveled out of town for a weekend swim meet where they spent two nights together in a hotel.  The following Wednesday, Julia was in math class and scratched her head.  She was mortified to see a bug drop from her head onto her desk!  She quickly flicked the bug away and prayed that nobody noticed.  The following day, Julia and her mom were treated for lice at our clinic.  She definitely had lice long enough so that she was contagious during her swim team weekend away.

As much as Julia and her mom were embarrassed to notify her team, friends, family and school, they did so.  And thankfully they did, as 10 out of 12 other team members were also positive for lice.  Over half the cases were caught early before a large infestation ensued.  The girls on the team and families, were wonderfully supportive.  They even booked appointments with each other so that they could enjoy some time at the lice spa together!

Jonathan…

Now let’s look at Jonathan.  Jonathan is 8 years old and has about 4 inches of hair.  He’d been growing out his hair for a while and absolutely did not want to shave it off.  Jonathan likes to hang out with his friends at school and at after school care.  When Jonathan came to us for treatment, he had a moderate to severe infestation.  He was one of the 50% of people that don’t have an allergic reaction to the louse’s saliva, and thus did not itch.  We treated not only Jonathan, but also his mother and father.

Jonathan’s parents felt embarrassed and guilty about having lice, so they chose not to communicate with anyone.  A month after clearing the family of head lice, Jonathan was reinfested.  Everyone’s frustration level was through the roof.  Lice PTSD had set in.

Communication is key to prevention

Once you communicate, you’ll be surprised to find out how many people have either gone through a lice infestation before, or are currently dealing with one.  If someone has recently had lice or are currently treating, always ask how have they been treated.  If they are treating at home with either over-the-counter products or home remedies, don’t let your lice guard down!  See our other blog posts about why these methods might not work:

Wouldn’t you have appreciated a call from your friend giving you an early warning to check your heads for lice?  Be a friend and tell a friend.  And when you do get that call, thank your friend!

Lice Spies are professionally trained and certified through the Shepherd Institute.   We provide safe, non-toxic, natural head lice checks, treatment services, DIY & preventive products at our Edmonds clinic. Located on the corner of Edmonds Way and 236th Street Southwest in Edmonds, WA, appointments can be booked online, anytime of day or night at www.licespies.com.

Mayo, Vaseline, Cetaphil, olive oil - do these work as home lice treatments? 

Head lice and home remedies… advice abounds from old wives’ tales passed down from generation to generation, to all those “expert opinions” that plague the Internet.  Smothering techniques are some of the most widely recommended methods of trying to tackle a case of head lice at home.  Does dousing your head in mayonnaise, olive oil, Cetaphil or Vaseline really work?

Let’s first look at the anatomy of a louse.  Lice have ventricles on the sides of their bodies, which when open, allow the bugs to breathe.  Lice can shut down these ventricles for up to two full hours, even when fully submersed in liquids that are meant to kill them.  If a louse can open these ventricles and grab a breath, they are good to go for another two hours.  Unless you are willing to dunk your head in a vat of these products for longer than two hours, the chances of still having live bugs in your hair is very possible.

What about the eggs or nits?  Surely, greasing up your hair will provide too slippery a surface for the louse to attach her eggs?  In addition, putting all that goop in your hair will suffocate any eggs that are already in your hair, right?  Unfortunately, no.  Leading lice PhD experts wrote an article in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing stating that none of these treatments stopped lice from laying their eggs [1].  It appears that of the oily products in question, petroleum jelly has the highest rate of killing some nits as the researchers observed only 6% of eggs hatched.

Do we recommend using petroleum jelly?  Absolutely not.  It is a nightmare to get it all out of your hair, and it is not 100% effective.  While a 94% success rate might be a very good passing grade in school, it is not a good enough result when treating a head lice infestation.  Leaving 6% behind in your hair can cause the whole hatching cycle to continue and voila, 2 weeks later your head is crawling with critters once again.

As for mayonnaise, we haven’t met one person yet who eats mayonnaise after suffering through a dreaded mayo lice treatment, even if it’s been years since the treatment!  All joking aside, please do not use mayonnaise.  Lice feed on our blood and can often create open bite wounds on the head.  Leaving a product that spoils very quickly on our heads for hours at a time can run the risk of salmonella poisoning.

The recommendation when using these oily products often requires you to place some sort of plastic over your head when sleeping.  In 2015, a precious 18 month old lost her life by suffocation while sleeping with her hair doused in mayonnaise covered by a plastic bag [2].  The risk is just not worth it.

Bottom line, there is no one product, tool or device that is 100% effective at killing lice and nits.  There just is not.  If olive oil really worked, the ancient Egyptians would have nipped head lice in the bud centuries ago!

The last two nits in the hair have to be removed to break the continuous loop of the hatching cycle to stop a lice infestation.  There are safe, effective tools and products that can help treat head lice faster and more efficiently, and they do not require multiple washings to get the products out of your hair.

Our recommendation is to seek professional help, preferably professionals that have been trained and certified through the Shepherd Institute [3].  These professionals can provide you with safe, effective, non-toxic DIY products and guidance for successful home treatments that are very reasonable.  They can also provide in-clinic or in-house treatment services.

Lice Spies are professionally trained and certified through the Shepherd Institute [3].   We provide safe, non-toxic, natural head lice checks, treatment services, DIY & preventive products at our Edmonds clinic. Located on the corner of Edmonds Way and 236th Street Southwest in Edmonds, WA, appointments can be booked online, anytime of day or night at www.licespies.com.

Sources:

  1. Home Remedies to Control Head Lice, Assessment of Home Remedies to Control the Human Head Louse, Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae): Miwa Takano-Lee, PhD, John D. Edman, PhD, John D. Edman, PhD, Bradley A. Mullens, PhD, John M. Clark, PhD; Journal of Pediatric Nursing, December 2004 Volume 19, Issue 6, Pages 393–398.  http://www.pediatricnursing.org/article/S0882-5963(04)00139-3/abstract
  2. Massachusetts toddler dies during head lice treatment: CBS/AP February 5, 2015, 1:35 PM. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/massachusetts-toddler-dies-during-head-lice-treatment/
  3. http://www.shepherdinstitute.com/