Why are head lice such a mystery?

While head lice is an age old problem, in depth research about head lice is a relatively new phenomenon with almost all the scientific research happening within the last 100 years. Unlike some areas of research that have been studied more extensively, we are still discovering new things all the time about head lice. Studies that are just a few years old may already have been disproven. Each year, more comprehensive information is uncovered about head lice transmission and treatment. Why are head lice such a mystery? Here are my thoughts...

Head lice are not easy to study.
Besides being very tiny, you can't easily take lice or eggs them from the head and look at them in the lab because they are designed for the temperature and environment of the head.

Research is based on facts but assumptions are still made.
For a long time, it was assumed that lice were transmitted through inanimate objects and the scientific community promoted this assumption. So, more research was done on the effect of hot water on head lice or how high the heat in your dryer has to get to kill head lice on your clothes or pillows. But did anyone do any research to see if head lice actually hang out on your clothes or pillow? Not really. It is only now that these assumptions are being questioned and researched. And now the current research is showing that head lice are not transmitted through inanimate objects. So, conventional wisdom may not be our best source of information.

Head lice have changed over the years.
Head lice have adapted and treatments that once worked well (permethrin based products such as Nix and R&C) are almost completely ineffective now. And yet these products still quote the original research from the 1980's that says they are almost 100% effective. Sorry, times have changed and lice have changed with them.

Because of factors such as these, you can find different research to support completely different views on head lice. Trust only the most recent research from reputable sources such as universities and studies published and peer reviewed in medical journals. Don't believe everything you read on public health websites, magazine articles, or even blog articles like mine. The information given by lice professionals needs to stand up to investigation and public scrutiny.

My advice to you? Pay less attention to the debates on which chemicals kill better or the arguements of how lice are transmitted. Just work hard to get the suckers and their eggs off of the head. Problem solved.

No comments: