There are many facts about lice that are perpetuated due to a lack of correct information and are simply not true. This article attempts to give a detailed list of facts about lice and to dispel some of the common myths and reinforce what will be humorously be referred to here as “the facts of lice” or, everything a parent needs to know about lice. I include parents in the title because most new cases of lice and its introduction into a home comes from children at school, on playgrounds and play areas,  or daycare.

First of all, one of the most important facts about lice is that getting lice does not mean that you are dirty and has absolutely nothing to do with how often you wash (or don’t wash) your hair. Shampoo has no effect on lice and lice shows up on the heads of children across race, class, socioeconomic, and other lines. It makes no difference who you are or how clean you think your family is, being clean has no effect on lice and no amount of scrubbing or regular hair washing can get rid of lice. Now, with the arrival of super lice (read about super lice here), even the special shampoos once designed to kill lice are no longer working, thus more options are being developed to kill regular lice and super lice alike.

Another statement that is often made about lice is that they spread disease, much like ticks and fleas. This is not true about lice and makes this misconception about lice, next to the issue of cleanliness and lice, one of the most irritatingly untrue rumors. Lice do not spread disease and do not carry them or infect you with them when they bite you. One of the facts about lice is that they do jump from person to person and feed off of blood, but you cannot blood-borne disease from lice such as HIV and AIDS or other conditions and diseases. There is already a powerful negative stigma attached to having lice and the assertion that lice spread disease is wrong and further scares people into thinking there is an urgent medical need to get rid of lice, when in fact, the problem is more that the itching is sometimes intense.

Along the lines of the above statement about lice and the spread of disease, it should be noted that the only medical conditions that might result from your child having head lice is that they may get sores on their heads from itching and scratching and if left untreated or if they are allowed to continue itching, skin infections may result. Lice as enormous pests and the itching, which is often especially bad at night during sleep, can sometimes cause unconscious itching which can be terrible for children and parents alike but there is no problem with disease from the bites of lice.

Another one of the pervading myths about lice is that you can get rid of it by shaving your head alone. While this will certainly minimize the number of eggs or nits in your hair, there could still be lice that are too small to see well on your scalp. More importantly, shaving your head to get rid of lice does very little good if other people in your family have lice or if your pets have lice as well, which does happen. With the arrival of the awful treatment resistant super lice, shaving your child’s head to get rid of lice is an alternative to try to cut down on the number of them, but it is suggested that you at least try some of the chemicals in addition once the head is shaved. While this might not cure lice because super lice are resistant, it is worth a try.

Remember that just because your child got lice does not mean he or she is associating with “dirty” people and despite the stigma with lice, this is hardly the case. People from all walks of life get lice and your primary concern as a parent of a child with lice is to make sure you know what to do so your child can get back to school or daycare lice free.

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