The 7 Most Common Myths About Lice
Lice are very small but, in sufficient numbers, they can cause big problems. The real problem, however, is the fact that many people believe common myths about lice and it leads to ineffective treatment and sometimes worsening of the infestation. Protect yourself and your family by learning the truth about the top 7 craziest myths that exist about lice:
- Lice can jump and fly.Lice are very tiny insects – they are only about the size of a sesame seed. They have six legs and a long, narrow body but no wings. This being the case, lice are incapable of flight and they do not jump either – they move by crawling. This is why the most common form of transmission is through direct head-to-head contact.
- An itchy scalp means you have lice.Having an itchy scalp is one of the most common symptoms of head lice, but there are other potential causes for this issue. Dry skin and seborrheic dermatitis (also known as dandruff) are two other common causes.
- Lice like people with long or dirty hair.Many people believe that lice like dirty hair when, in fact, the opposite is true. Getting lice has nothing to do with your personal hygiene and washing your hair will not be enough to get rid of the problem. Lice actually prefer a clean scalp and they have no preference for long or short hair. All they need to survive is blood from the scalp.
- You can get lice from your pets.In the same way that you are very unlikely to catch a disease from your dog, you cannot get lice from pets either. Lice are species-specific which means that even if your pet does have life, it is a species that cannot survive on a human host. Human lice require human blood in order to survive and dog lice need dog blood to survive.
- Lice can carry disease and transmit it to people.Head lice do not carry disease. They are related to the much larger body louse which has been known to carry diseases like typhus and trench fever, but head lice are not known to transit any infection. The only potential health problem caused by a lice outbreak would be the risk of a secondary skin infection from scratching.
- Your children are most likely to get lice at school. Children are most likely to get lice from places or activities where they have direct head-to-head contact with other people or share personal items. School is a place where these situations frequently arise, but your children are just as likely to get head lice from daycare, summer camp, and slumber parties.
- African Americans never get lice.Because African American hair tends to be fairly coarse in texture, many people assume that this ethnic group is immune to lice. The fact is that no hair is immune to lice, regardless of texture. Lice only attach to hair as a means of getting to the scalp.
The 5 Most Common Myths About Lice Treatment
Not only is there a great deal of misinformation out there about lice and how they spread, but many people misunderstand the proper ways to treat a lice outbreak. Here are the top 5 myths you should know about lice control:
- Natural treatments are always safe and effective.Many people who worry about using chemical lice treatments choose natural treatments as an alternative. Unfortunately, these natural treatments are not guaranteed to be safe or effective, especially for children.
- Cutting off your hair will get rid of lice.Because lice lay their eggs in the hair near the scalp, there is a misconception that cutting off the hair will eliminate lice. Not only will this fail to get rid of the lice, but it is a health code violation for a hair salon to service someone with lice.
- Dousing your child’s head in gasoline will kill lice.Some people believe that dousing the head in gasoline will kill lice. This extreme treatment may kill some of the lice, but the risks are much higher than the reward. Never use gasoline to treat a lice outbreak.
- Covering your head in mayonnaise will smother lice. Similar to the gasoline myth, some people believe that mayonnaise will suffocate lice. This treatment may help to kill some of the active adult lice, but it will not have an impact on their eggs.
- Over the counter lice treatments are best.Many over the counter lice treatments contain pesticides that used to be effective in the past. Unfortunately, lice have begun to develop a resistance to these treatments so they may no longer be effective except at prescription strength.