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Lice Facts and Myths

Lice Facts and Myths
Created on 
March 27, 2017
Updated on 
August 26, 2022

In the last two decades that we have been helping families get rid of lice, we have heard some interesting statements that clients have heard from a friend, who heard from a friend of a friend about lice and the spread of head lice among human heads. When dealing with head lice, effective treatment often relies on a good understanding of it. Because of this, it is important to be able to discern fact from fiction.

Lice Facts

Head Lice Are Not A Result of Poor Hygiene

A harmful myth that contributes to the negative stigma of having head lice is that getting a case of lice is a sign of poor personal hygiene. To be certain, this is untrue. Lice cling to hair follicles and feed on the blood from a human's scalp, not on skin or hair. In fact, a person who has squeaky clean hair is more at risk of contracting a case of lice than someone with greasy hair, or hair with product in it. At the same time, it is important to follow proper hygiene especially if someone in your home or circle of friends is found with head lice.

Head Lice Live On The Head

Human head lice are found on the human head. Very rarely will you see lice in the beard, lice in the eyelashes, or lice in the eyebrows of an infected person. To learn more about these cases, please visit our blogs: Can Head Lice Live in a Man's Beard and Eyebrow and Eyelash Lice. Because head lice need the environment of the human head, which provides the appropriate climate and food source, they do not like to leave their home on human head hair. Adult lice feed on human blood from the scalp from 3 to 6 times daily and will die within 24-36 hours when off the head. Lice are highly contagious and reproduce at a rate of 6-10 eggs per day per female louse. Female lice the eggs called nits. Each louse can live for 30 days and may leave up to 200 eggs in the hair over that time. Unhatched nits or lice eggs are not contagious and will not spread head lice.

Head Lice Are Spread By Direct Contact

By far, the most common way head lice spread is through head-to-head contact. Within a family, if one person has it, the odds of another having it are over 70%. Head lice have six legs that have tiny claws that enable them to grasp onto the hair follicles of another person and crawl up to the scalp to feed. For more information, see our blog How Contagious is Head Lice?

A Head Lice Infestation Consists of Bugs and Eggs

A Head Lice Infestation Consists of Bugs and Eggs

The stages of life, or life cycle of lice, start with a bug arriving in your hair and laying eggs. Bugs are about the size of a sesame seed or smaller. Lice (bugs) are difficult to spot because they scoot away from the light. Head lice and nits (lice eggs) range in color from light brown to dark brown. On the scalp, they appear translucent with a brownish tinge; when placed on a white background, they are brown. Nits are teardrop shaped – round on one end and pointy on the other. Nits are glued to the hair shaft and have to be pulled off. Both nits and lice tend to camouflage in the hair- particularly in brunettes. The incidence of lice and the severity of the individual cases have increased over the past several years due to an increasing resistance among lice to chemical shampoos and pesticides. Today's lice are so hearty and resistant that they are often referred to as “super lice”.‍

LICE MYTHS

Lice Prefer One Type Of Hair Over Others

Some believe that only people with dirty hair get head lice or that certain nationalities or ethnicities are not able to get head lice. The fact is head lice like hair, any hair. If you have hair, you can get head lice.

  • Lice prefer dirty hair - hair that is oily is more difficult for lice to latch onto.
  • If the hair has product in it, making it artificially dirty, it can help prevent a lice infestation.
  • The type of hair does not matter, if you have hair you can get lice. However, African American individuals tend to get infestations less commonly because of the amount of product on their hair.
  • Having long hair can increase the chances of getting lice. Infestations are spread by head-to-head contact where lice grab onto another person's hair to infect them. Because of the additional contact area, those with long hair left down can more easily contract a case of lice.
  • Hair dye does not affect a person's probability of getting lice. Lice even like dyed hair and can live on it without being affected.

Lice Fly and Jump From Head To Head

Lice do not have wings, and, unlike fleas, their legs are not springy, so they lack the ability to jump. They do not travel from head to head by flying or jumping from person to person. As mentioned before, the primary mode of transportation is crawling directly from one person's head to another person's head. They can move very quickly, despite having short legs.

An Itchy Head Means Head Lice

Itching is a common symptom of head lice, but just because your head itches, it does not mean you have lice. Itching from lice is caused by the bites of the bugs, but not everyone experiences itchiness or irritation from these bites. There are many things that can cause itching on the head, such as dandruff or other irritations. So the presence of itching or the lack of itching is not a good indicator of whether a person has lice or not.

You Must Clean Your House Thoroughly To Get Rid Of Lice

You Must Clean Your House Thoroughly To Get Rid Of Lice

This is by far one of the most common and problematic of all myths about head lice because this part of head lice treatments is often the most cumbersome and exhausting for the primary caregiver in a household – and yet it is an unnecessary step that many families take when dealing with an outbreak of lice. In addition, it adds an unnecessary expense on top of the unexpected cost of standard head lice treatment. Head lice do not live in the home in places such as the bed, stuffed animals, pillow, couch, curtains, carpets – the list could go on. If head lice happen to fall off of the head, they are separated from the warmth and the food source that they need to survive. Without these benefits, a louse will die from starvation within 24 hours. If appropriately treated, using a method that removes all bugs and eggs from the hair, a head lice infestation will be eradicated without the need to do a deep clean and excessive laundry. When researching professional lice services, be leery of those recommending this extra, time-intensive step

The Whole Family Should Be Treated With Pesticide Shampoos

A question we are asked, especially in cases where elderly individuals may be exposed, is can adults get lice? With regard to the use of pesticide shampoos, those who do not have a confirmed case of head lice should not be treated as these types of treatment do come with their fair share of potentially undesirable side effects and do not serve as a preventative for head lice. However, it is important to understand that these shampoos have lost their effectiveness over the years and often fail to kill lice. Head lice infestations have become increasingly resistant to these shampoos, so if your family is infected with super lice, these shampoos likely will be ineffective anyway.

Your Dog or Cat Can't Get Lice

If your family consists of a furry friend, you'll be concerned about spreading lice to them. Human head lice feed only on humans, so lice will not spread from humans to domestic animals such as dogs and cats. While dogs and cats can get lice, it is not the type of lice that infests humans. Both dogs and cats carry different types of lice, so a cat cannot transfer lice to dogs or humans, and dogs cannot transfer lice to cats or humans.

Head Lice Services Take Away The Myth

LiceDoctors Head Lice Removal Services offers in-home head lice removal. Technicians use all natural ingredients, and LiceDoctors has the lowest prices in the area. LiceDoctors is available 7 days a week-day or evening. Treatment comes with a full guarantee. Check us out at www.licedoctors.com and give us a call today. You will be happy that you did. We guarantee it!

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