Sometimes 'effective' can also be 'inexpensive'.

Never underestimate a decent lice comb. And I'm not talking about the plastic comb that comes in the Nix package. A proper metal lice comb is an extremely wise investment as it can cut your nit picking in half. I have always recommended the Licemeister, which is a great comb, but the cost is prohibitive for some. Then a client told me about a good comb that she found at Wal-Mart - the Pharmasystems dual-sided lice comb (see the blurry picture). It is a pretty generic comb, but I tried it and have found it to be both effective and inexpensive. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for around $9. You may have to ask the pharmacist where the lice combs are located as they are not stocked beside the regular brushes and combs. I don't think this comb is as durable as the Licemeister, but it can still be boiled and is good for multiple uses. On the back of the package, it tells you to "shampoo with pediculicide". As you know, I don't think this is necessary or beneficial. Just use the comb regularly. If you want to clean out the comb between strokes, dip it in water and wipe with toilet paper or a paper towel. If you want to clean between the teeth, do not pry the teeth apart - just clean between them with dental floss.

I am sorry for the ignorance of others.

Today I spoke with a woman whose family had been dealing with head lice. In fact, they had dealt with it rather effectively and saw no new lice activity for a week. But then this woman found a new bug and 3 eggs in her daughter's hair. Because of this, her children were "kicked out" of the private day care they were attending. And because this woman now has no childcare, she has to stay home with her children. And because she has had to stay home this past week, she got fired from her job. How terribly sad.

And how terribly unnecessary. I understand the sentiment behind having "no-nit policies" in schools, daycare centres, camps, etc. However, one louse does not an epidemic make. Once the woman removed the louse and nits, her child was, for all intents and purposes, head lice free. With nit picking, it is very possible to miss an egg, and when you do, you may find yourself with a new batch of head lice down the road. To deal with this, you keep checking and picking for at least 10 days, watching for new lice activity. This woman did just this. She did all the right things, but she still suffered a consequence that was greater than the head lice itself.

Last week, I visited a family whose child was sent home from school because they mistook psoriosis for head lice. That's a simple mistake, but they sent the young child walking home without contacting the parents first to ensure that someone was there to receive her. Luckily, mom was at home and nothing happened to the child on the way home from school, but in that situation, the outcome could have been far worse than a case of head lice.

We send our children to school and day cares with colds and flus all the time. And these are much more serious health issues. But with head lice comes paranoia and people will sometimes do crazy, stupid, or dangerous things just because head lice gives them "the creeps". They don't understand what head lice are, how you get them, or that you don't need expensive treatments to deal with them.

But if you want to enlighten them, tell them to give me a call.

Do not hurry. Do not rest.

Shinichi Suzuki was the creator of Talent Education, the Suzuki method of music education. What could he have to do with the fight against head lice? Well, it seems that the fundamental rules for mastering an instrument, or mastering anything for that matter, are the same for mastering head lice:

"Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. Do not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there."
- Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)

You will not beat head lice overnight. Not with a treatment or one use of a fancy comb. You will not beat it by exhausting yourself with a sleepless frenzied cleaning marathon that lasts for three days. You will beat it by slowly and calmly removing the lice and nits that you see. And you will do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And then, one day, you will notice that you are not dealing with it anymore. Even then, you will keep checking everyday. Hurrying yourself in a frantic panic will drain you of the energy needed to fight this fight. If you burn yourself out, you will give up. But the lice won't. So follow Suzuki's words of wisdom. Do not hurry. Do not rest. And you will win.


How to remove head lice from someone else.

If you are dealing with head lice on your own head, and you do not have someone to help you, click here.

So, you've checked and you are certain you have found head lice in someone. Don't worry. You can beat this. People have been fighting head lice effectively for years without any special tools.  If you have nothing but your hands, just get the person with lice in some good light and start picking out the bugs and eggs.  You can pick lice and nits out faster than they can reproduce and so you can always get ahead of their cycle if you just put in the time.   However there are some tools that can be of help in the fight:

Do You Really Have Head Lice? How To Check It Out.

If you suspect that someone you know has head lice, check it out.
If you think you might have head lice, find a buddy to check for you.

1. Comb through the hair to remove all the tangles.

2. Ensuring that are looking under good light, go through the hair section by section, and hair by hair looking for any lice eggs or bugs. You can use your fingers to do this, or you can use a regular comb to gently pull away a few hairs at a time for examining. You only really need to look for any lice activity from the scalp to approximately 3 inches off of the scalp, though be extra diligent in your search if find older lice activity farther away from the scalp. It may help to use hair clips to keep the hair in sections. Look through the hair from different angles, looking over the hair and under the hair.

3. Check for nits (live eggs or hatched eggs). Don’t waste time wondering if eggs are live or hatched – if you have them, you have a problem. Their eggs are like tiny oval drops that are yellowish-white and are completely glued to the hair. On dark hair, they can look white and on light hair, they look dark. If you see something on the hair, flick it with your finger or try to brush it away. If it moves, it is NOT a nit. Also, look at its shape – is it a completely uniform oval shape? If not, it is not a nit. Now, having nits DOES NOT guarantee that you will have an active case of head lice. It does mean that you should investigate further.

4. Watch for live bugs. The baby louse starts out as small as a tiny speck of pepper. After hatching, it is completely clear in colour, but it turns red after its first meal, and it then turns a translucent brownish colour as it grows. Its colour is enhanced by the colour of the hair it is in – head lice look darker in lighter hair and can easily blend in with darker hair. A louse is as big as a sesame seed when it is fully grown. If you see a bug, remove it immediately. Note, in dry hair, bugs run from the light and can move very quickly through the hair. In wet hair, bugs stay still so after checking for eggs, you should comb through wet hair with a fine tooth comb to see if you comb out any bugs. You can add some hair conditioner to the hair to make combing easier.

5. Start wet combing. Here's where the real checking begins. It's great if you have a metal lice comb but this can even be done with a plastic fine toothed comb. Wet your already detangled hair and coat it with some cheap hair conditioner. Comb through the hair from scalp to tip and check the comb after each stroke for lice (this probably won't remove any eggs or tiny bugs, but adult lice can still be caught this way). Keep on combing until you have counted to at least 100 (or found a bug, whichever comes first).

At the first sign of bugs, switch from doing lice checking to doing lice removal. If you have any questions, give me a call. Good Luck!


What You Should Know About Head Lice

Here are some basic facts about head lice. You should really know what you are dealing with. As they say, knowledge is power.

Head lice are very small, and often difficult to find on the scalp, but they are not microscopic.
Lice and eggs are not like viruses - they can be seen with the naked eye. Their eggs are like tiny oval drops that are yellowish-white and are completely glued to the hair. The baby louse starts out as small as a speck of pepper. After hatching, it is completely clear in colour, but it turns red after its first meal, and it then turns a translucent brownish colour as it grows. Its colour can also be enhanced by the colour of the hair it is in – head lice look darker in lighter hair and can easily blend in with darker hair. A louse is as big as a sesame seed when it is fully grown.

The life cycle of lice lasts around 50 days.
They are in an egg for 7-10 days. After they hatch, they grow and molt their way to adulthood for another 10 days or so, and then once they reach adulthood, they live for about 30 days.

The female louse can lay about 3-10 eggs every day.
She can lay up to about 100 eggs in her lifetime. It sounds like a lot, but you can always pick her eggs off faster than she can lay them if you are diligent.

Lice are only passed from head to head through direct contact.
They cannot jump, they cannot fly, and you can’t get them just by being a room with someone who had head lice. The most current research shows that you also cannot get them from inanimate objects such as hats or brushes that have been used by someone who has head lice.

Head lice are a nuisance and a big inconvenience, but they are not a health issue. Unless you scratch your head so much that you create wounds that get infected, the head lice just create a bothersome itch, and that’s all.

Head lice like clean heads. They like dirty heads. They just like heads.
Having head lice does not mean that you have poor hygiene.

Head lice can only survive off the head for 2-3 days.
Otherwise, they starve.

Head lice can hold their breath and hang on.
This is why they are not affected when you go swimming or have a shower.

Head lice live on the human head (and sometimes they visit the neck for a snack).
You cannot give them to or get them from your pets. If you see bites on other parts of your body, you are dealing with something else and should seek medical attention. If you see bugs crawling around your home and you know that they didn’t just get shaken or brushed off of your head, then you can safely say that they aren’t head lice but a different problem to deal with.

Head lice are stopped by head cleaning, not house cleaning.There is no evidence to show that house cleaning or laundering will reduce your chances of reinfestation or will increase your chances of getting rid of the problem. They live on the head and are useless off of the head. So don't waste your energy by performing a marathon cleaning/laundry frenzy. Save your time for dealing with what's on the head.

Don't waste your time on the sidelines. Go where the action is.

Head lice are a stupid nuisance. Picking out every egg and bug is time consuming. Checking for lice activity on a daily basis is a chore.

The problem is, with most people I talk to, picking and checking isn't the problem. What most people find absolutely exhausting is all the house cleaning and laundry. Hours and hours of vacuuming, washing bedding, bagging stuffed animals, or whatever.

Here's a tip: DON'T DO IT.

I mean it. There is no evidence that suggests that cleaning your home will reduce your chance of re-infestion on your head. And there IS evidence to suggest that if you have taken the lice off of the head, but don't clean the home, your chances of getting head lice again are no greater than getting it from the general public.

If my children bring home head lice (they have brought it home from school - I don't bring my work home with me), do you know what I clean? I CLEAN THEIR HEADS OF HEAD LICE. That's where ALL the action is. I don't do any excess cleaning. Well, I do pour boiling water over the brushes and combs, though there is even research that shows I don't even need to do that. To be honest, I don't even wash their blankets and sheets (unless they were due for a washing anyway). I don't put away their stuffed animals. I don't even pull out my vacuum with the exception of when I do my regular house cleaning each week because it's nice to see the floor once in a while.

I am unrelenting when it comes to picking and checking their heads and I spend a considerable amount of time doing this. But I don't go crazy cleaning my house over head lice. And this saves me a lot of time. Head lice are only a problem when they are on your head. Make sure that 99.9% of your time is spent working to get them off of the head and then you won't have to worry about having them in the home.