Since the 1960’s head lice have increased nearly 80 percent. As of late, Suffolk County schools have been encountering Pediculus Humanus Capitis, better known as head lice. While head lice are common in children, the cases of lice that have been appearing in the schools are alarming. The actual truth about lice, and what it is, is misunderstood.
While lice have been primarily seen in children, lately they have been seen in people of all ages due to the spread. Each year, schools throughout the country see cases of lice.
According to Lice Fighters, a lice removal company, there are 6-12 million cases each year in the United States. While it’s typical to see a few cases of lice in schools each year, they are on the rise. Ereena Schwartz, a mom of three, says, “My youngest daughter got head lice when she was in kindergarten. My son, who is elementary school, never got it, but my eldest daughter who is in middle school got it because of visiting the elementary school.”
There are many misconceptions about lice and their ability to travel off the human body and how they travel. Some quick facts about lice are; they don’t jump or fly, lice are unable to live off the human body for more than 48 hours, poor hygiene has nothing to do with lice, and the host won’t know until about two weeks after infestation that they have head lice.
Robin Reynolds, a licensed practical nurse says, “Lice are not dangerous. Just make sure you catch them at the right time.”
It has been proven that head lice are not dangerous because they don’t carry any diseases unlike body lice. You will also see head lice in girls rather than boys as girls have a four times higher chance of getting it than boys.
Head lice are usually only seen on the head and scalp because they need the warmth that comes off the head to survive. They also survive by biting down on your scalp and sucking blood. This is what usually causes the itchiness that comes with head lice.
The life cycle of head lice is a 4-5 week process. Lice eggs, which are formally known as nits, start on your head. The nits usually hatch a week after, and than they molt three times over a period of 10 days. Around 2 ½ weeks, the males and the females begin to mate. A female is significantly larger than a male. Two days after mating, eggs are laid; the female lays 4 to 8 more eggs the next week before dying. The cycle will still continue until the head is treated.
Head lice are spread from direct head to head contact; sharing hats, headbands, hair ties, and brushes. Head lice are also spread by bedding, and touching the hair of an infested person and than touching your own.
There is no one treatment for head lice, and unlike other problems, you can’t go to a doctor for this. Pharmacies sell products that are used to kill the lice, but a comb is needed to comb through the hair and take them out one by one. They sell lice shampoos, which kill the lice, but also can make the lice resistant to the shampoo.
“I had to shampoo my daughter’s hair three to four times a day, to make sure I was getting everything. It took me a good three days to get rid of all of the lice in her hair,” says, Ereena Schwartz.
In addition to the shampoos that are sold, they also make ‘lice repellent’ which is suppose to kept the lice away from your hair due to the citronella smell, but has no evidence to back it up.
The only way you can protect yourself against head lice is to stay away from an affected person, and wear your hair up. Lice also do not like products such as gel, mousse and hair spray. It is also recommended to wash your hair with the lice shampoo at least once a week for a few weeks after infestation.