Nothing strikes fear and anxiety in a parent more than head lice. All it takes is one call from the mom that hosted that slumber party last weekend… Or the dreaded backpack note. Immediately, your head begins to itch. The normally “green” mom, rushes to CVS and buys toxic chemicals in a desperate attempt to treat their family from this ancient scourge.
Now… stop in your tracks. Before you panic please familiarize yourself with these lice facts:
- Head lice are very common. They are the second most common reason children miss school in the United States, second only to the common cold. An estimated 6-12 million children get head lice every year
- Head lice prefer a clean healthy head. Anyone can get head lice; they know no socioeconomic boundaries.
- Head lice are becoming increasingly resistant to the pesticides used to treat them. Currently, Permethrin, and it’s synthetic analog, pyrethrum (the ingredients in RID and NIX) are only 45% effective in killing the live bugs. They have no effect on the eggs.
- Lice are spread through direct head to head contact about 99% of the time. A louse off a human will die within 24-48 hours. Cleaning your house is not the Herculean task many believe it to be.
- Head lice do not jump or fly.
- Head lice do not spread disease.
- Human head lice cannot infest dogs or cats.
- A female louse can lay 6-10 eggs a day. The eggs will hatch in 7-10 days, and reach reproductive maturity in another 7-10 days.
- Many cases of head lice are misdiagnosed.
So, if you’re not supposed to panic and the current OTC treatments don’t work and you are not even sure is you have head lice or not, what shout you do?
- First determine if you do indeed have head lice. Many pediatricians do not even want you to come to their office. Sarah Casello-Rees, owner of Rapunzel’s Lice Boutique with locations in Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids says “Bring your family in to one of our boutiques. They are clean, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and we can confirm whether you have head lice or if it’s a false alarm. It’s only $10 and free on Wednesdays to get a head check. It will save you money that might otherwise be spent on products that you may not need and don’t work anyway.”
- If head lice are confirmed, Rapunzel’s offers two non-toxic options.
- Full service treatment. “We are Michigan’s exclusive provider of the LouseBuster™ Treatment System. It is an FDA cleared medical device that uses heated air to desiccate the lice and nits. It’s 99.2% effective, only requires one visit and we guarantee it 100%” says Casello-Rees
- Self treatment. Rapunzel’s sells their own brand of self treatment products. According to Casello-Rees, “They are non-toxic and very effective, however there is of course a certain amount of labor involved on the parent’s part. Also, if the mom has lice, often, she has no one to do the combing on her own head. I estimate, when the kids get lice, mom gets lice about 80% of the time.”
- There is no shortage of home remedies that can be found on the internet. Some can be effective in killing the live bugs, such as olive oil. However, olive oil must be left in the hair for 8 hours and does not kill the nits. Be sure not to use baby oil or vaseline, as these products are extremely difficult to remove from the hair.
- Never use kerosene or other flammable substances.
- There are prescription remedies available, but the majority of them are still pesticides and their efficacy is usually below 90%.
Check out these sources for more information about how to identify, treat and prevent head lice.