Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lousy Myths About Some Not-So-Monkey Business

I'll always remember the spring of 2012 as the time I went nearly went buggy over lice.  The Storm brought it home and spread it about with her fantastic hugs, until we all had it. You can read about our hell here:

Finally, after five months, the lovely Carrie Burts of LiceDoctors arrived to rid us of the nasty things, once and for all. 


The ordeal left me a bit of an expert on the subject, so here are so many myths dispelled; the truth about this not-so-monkey business, if you will:

1. Only people who are dirty get lice. Not true. Lice is attracted to clean hair, where the nits can more easily adhere to the hair follicle.

2. You need to bag everything up (stuffed toys, pillows, etc.) for two weeks, or a month. Not true! Without a scalp to feed on lice will die within 48 hours.  Nits, or rather the larvae within them, also cannot survive for long out of the nice warm nesting ground of the human head.
3. Lice can jump and fly. Nope! But they can crawl really, really fast, and when you are digging through hair to find them they do this, instinctually racing from the light that moving this or that strand brings. It’s the reason you don’t often see live lice. 

4.  Lice carry disease. Yes, if embarrassment is classified as disease. Besides the itch (or possible rash) the social stigma of having lice, and the frustration associated with ridding one’s family or self of lice, is the worst of it.
5. Lice aren’t particularly common. Not true.  Lice are very common. Only the common cold is more common than lice. The thing is people aren’t apt to complain about it in public because of the negative social stigma associated with it. (See #4)
6. The most common way to catch lice is by sharing hats, helmets, and hairbrushes, etc.  It’s true that this is one way to catch lice, but head to head contact is the most common way that lice spreads. You want to avoid lice? Skip all physical contact--but I've got to say, as sucky as lice is, my babies' hugs are worth it.
7. I’m not itchy so I can’t have lice. That would be wrong. Just like some people go itch crazy over mosquito bites and other people don’t, so it is with lice. It’s an allergy thing.

8. Pets can get lice. Nope. Not even if your pet is a monkey.  Human blood is the feast of the head louse.
9. I used a lice shampoo, so now I'm in the clear. No way.  You also need to do a thorough comb through of each infested or even possibly infested head. (Get a quality micro-grooved comb! I can't emphasize this enough) You also need to launder all contaminated bedding; bag or put away all pillows and stuffed toys that might be contaminated; or stick these in the dryer on hot for 30-40 minutes; boil all hair brushes; thoroughly vacuum carpets and furniture; and don't forget about hair ties and carseats.  Then you need to do it all again approximately 10 days later.   
10. I did everything in #9, so now I'm definitely in the clear. Not necessarily. There is significant and mounting evidence that lice has developed immunities to the over-the-counter products, so it isn't a given that they work at all. The point is: You need to continually monitor the beautiful heads in your home. If you discover that you are not in fact rid of the critters, you need to find an alternative treatment. Definitely do not use the lice shampoos beyond the recommended dosage. There is also significant and mounting evidence that these are dangerous the first time round, forget about the second and third time you use them..  
Here's the deal: There is a ton of confusing, conflicting, controversial and political information surrounding these shampoos, and getting to the bottom of it is a bit of a chore, but do some homework before you expose your children to what is very probably a treatment far more dangerous than the disease.  Remember, lice is a nuisance but it can't make you sick or kill you.
If I had to do it all again, I most definitely would skip the trip to the drugstore--which proved futile, anyway--and head straight to my kitchen cupboard for the olive oil. Actually, if I had to do it all again, I'd call the LiceDoctors on Day One:

One final note: What it really means to contract lice is that: a. You  have clean hair; and b. You are sociable. Nothing more. Get over it, and get out the olive oil.

No comments:

Post a Comment