I have a small problem with Alberta Health Services...

My daughter got another notice from school that someone in her class has head lice (no, it wasn't her). We get these green information sheets sent home fairly frequently. Maybe you've seen these information sheets before. These handouts have been created by someone at Alberta Health Services (formerly Capital Health in Edmonton). I think it is great that notices are sent home. I don't like all of the information given:

The pamphlet says: "You will need...Shampoo, 1% Permethrin lice treatment, and a regular comb or brush."
Oh please. I fight head lice all the time. I do not use ANY lice topical treatments. None. Zippo. This is not a "need". Even if you did use the lice treatment, the directions on the pamphlet are different than the ones given in the box. Whose advice should you follow? I would think you should follow the advice of the maker of the product. If you use the product, that is. Which I don't.

"Nits that are more than 1/2 inch from the scalp will not hatch."
Not necessarily so, though anything past a few inches is certainly not viable.

"In fact, lice really like clean hair"
Lots of people say this and you can read one of my old posts about this idea here.

"Wash hats, scarves, combs, brushes, hair barrettes, bed sheets and pillow cases in hot soapy water."
I used to recommend this too.  But don't do it.  It is a waste of your energy and not proven to have any effectiveness.  Lice don't want to be on things.  They want to be on people.  Put all your attention on the head.

If after 48 hours, live lice are still seen, and "if steps were missed or hair products with conditioner were used...repeat the treatment with the same product immediately..."
Permethrin is a pesticide.  And there are many studies to show it is no longer effective.  It just doesn't work.

This pamphlet implies that if you do a proper second treatment in a week, then you will have solved your problem. The steps end with the phrase, "That's it - you're done!"
Are you kidding me? The huge majority of my business comes from people who have tried these "shampoos" 2, 3, 4, or more times! They've followed every direction, cleaned every surface, and gone mad because the lice remained a problem.

"Hair dryers, hair conditioners, vinegar rinses and chlorinated swimming pools should be avoided for 7-10 days..."
Hair dryers and hair conditioners can actually have a place in the fight against head lice. I discuss the topic of hair dryers in this post. For my post on hair conditioners, click here.

This pamphlet has a some good advice, but its emphasis on the use of lice "shampoos" is part of what I believe is causing so many cases of head lice in our schools. In step #4 of "How to Treat", it tells you to remove the eggs, but it doesn't really explain just how time consuming or how absolutely essential this step is. It doesn't tell you that you will have to manually remove the bugs as well. In my mind, you could get rid of almost every step in this pamphlet except step #4, and then you should have it repeated again and again.

One more note. If a doctor or a health nurse tells you that you have head lice, but then a lice removal professional comes over and says that you don't, trust the lice removal professional. I was once called in to see a woman to offer a third opinion. This woman had seen her doctor who told her that she definitely had head lice (even though he barely looked at her head). Then she had called another lice removal professional to remove the lice, and was told that she didn't have head lice. Then the woman called me and I told her that she could probably trust the other lice removal professional, but she wanted me to come in anyway. I went to see her and found that she didn't have head lice. Unfortunately, she still believed her doctor and called me a week later to check again. She still didn't have head lice, but she did have an itchy scalp from the useless half-dozen treatments she had given herself in the meantime.

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