Q & A: Answers to Your Lice Questions
Lice are primarily spread from close contact with someone who has it. They cannot fly or jump but they crawl fast. You can also get it from sharing hats, clothing, coats, brushes, hair accessories and from contact with upholstered furniture, pillows, stuffed animals and carpets.
Most people get an itchy scalp when they have lice. Some people will have tiny red bumps on their scalp or back of the neck from where the lice bit them. However we have seen people who are severely infested with lice and don’t itch at all. So don’t rule out lice just because your scalp doesn’t itch. If you suspect you may have lice, we suggest you come in for a FREE head screening, which only takes a few minutes. It is difficult for most people (even nurses and doctors) to tell the difference between nits (eggs) and dandruff. We have seen many people who were told by a health care professional that they had lice and we found that they just had dry scalp, not lice!
The live lice can be difficult to see because they are very good at hiding in the hair and they scatter quickly when you part the hair to look for them. Instead you should look for the nits (eggs) which are a telltale sign that a bug has been on your head and may still be there. The nits are hard, tiny raindrop shaped eggs usually found within 2 inches from the scalp. It is a myth that nits are always white. They can be clear, beige, black, or white, depending on where they are in their life cycle. They will be glued to the hair shaft and will not move unless you grab them with your nails and pull them down the length of the hair to the end. You will not be able to flick a nit off the hair like you would a piece of dandruff.
Lice have become resistant to the pesticides in the home treatment kits (Rid, etc.) so those treatments are not as effective as they used to be. We treat many people who use those kits and still have live bugs when they come to us. The nits (eggs) are extremely difficult to remove because they are glued onto the hair with a cement-like substance. Most people who use home treatments mistakenly think they’ve removed all the nits because they can’t see the new ones (they are almost microscopic and clear). Then within 10 days the nits they missed hatch and start a new cycle all over again.
None of these kills lice. Lice go into a state of “suspended animation” when submerged in water. This makes them able to hold their breath for several hours, so you can’t drown them easily. Hair dye, gel, mousse, and hairspray do not do anything to repel lice. However, if you dye your hair when you have lice, it will stain the nits (eggs) to match your hair color and make them even more difficult to see!
The food source for lice is human blood that they get by biting the scalp. Off a human head, the live bugs can’t survive longer than 3 days. And the nits (eggs) need the warmth of the head to hatch. So if you remove a strand of hair with a nit on it, the likelihood of it hatching and surviving off the head is one in a million.
Lice cannot survive on animals’ blood, only human blood. So your pet cannot be the source of lice. However, lice can crawl onto your pet, just like a piece of furniture or stuffed animal, and then crawl back onto a human. They will not survive longer than 3 days on your pet if they don’t have human contact. Most flea treatments will kill lice on your pet. You can also spray your pet with our Lice Choice Household Spray, which is non-toxic and completely safe, to kill any lice that have transferred to your pet.
It is a myth that getting lice means you’re dirty. Lice actually prefer CLEAN hair over dirty hair! Getting lice is not an indicator of poor hygiene. Anyone who is exposed to lice can get it.
The only way to ensure that you will NEVER get lice is to shave your head completely bald. Any amount of hair (even the shortest buzz cut) is enough hair for lice to nest in. To minimize your exposure, never share brushes, hair accessories, hats, pillows, or sports helmets with others. Girls should wear their hair in a tight bun to keep it from touching other people’s heads. Using a lot of hair products like gel, mousse and hair spray are NOT effective at repelling lice. You can use our Lice Choice Head Spray to help prevent lice. If sprayed daily on the hair, it will start breaking down any live lice that transfer to your head to keep them from reproducing and laying eggs. We can show you the proper way to use our product for maximum protection.