In the effort to always give you the most up-to-date about head lice information, I want to show everyone a great website called "Liceworld". I just found it and the information is great. Lice researcher Ian Burgess is one of the contributors. From what I see now, it seems this website has been created for the purpose of providing information. However, most researchers (Ian Burgess included) have links to some type of product so I suspect that in the near future, we will see some links to some money-makers (It's the development part of R&D - research and development - that really pays the bills.) Still, so far, it looks good. Check it out here.
Here's a link to an article from the British newspaper, The Telegraph, where it says that a extra humid conditions led to an increase in the number of cases of head lice just before the Olympics. The article quotes Ian Burgess, one of my favourite lice researchers, as saying one in ten children has head lice. It also says that over half of Britain's 4 to 11 year olds get lice every year. It mentions that 53% of people are asymptomatic (they don't know they have lice until the problem is really bad) and that lice are immune to over the counter products 80% of the time. Interesting stats - I wish they would show the research to back this. Interesting that this increase happened just before the Olympics. These lice fit the motto of "faster, higher, stronger".
1. If you or someone you know has head lice AND a problem with dandruff, deal with the dandruff first. Use a good dandruff shampoo and try to get out all the flakes. This will save you from trying to determine if what you are seeing is lice or dandruff. (Thanks to the mother - I'm sorry I lost your name - who gave me this tip a few months ago. Great idea.)
2. Here's a tip that is important to know if you are using the inexpensive purple lice comb that I recommend on this blog. I have had 3 calls in the last two months where people have told me that on their purple combs, the side with the short teeth pulls through the hair and tears some of it out. This is surprising to me as I have purchased many of these combs over the years and have never experienced this. Still, when I hear this news from 3 different sources, I tend to believe it. Maybe it's a bad batch? These callers still used the purple comb and found that it worked well - they just stopped using the side with the short teeth.
Got any more tips?
However, we must resist hyper-vigilance.Y'know, the kind of vigilance that makes us crazy. Where we lose sleep over head lice, assume every itch is a new bite, start over combing or over treating our hair, restrict our regular activities, keep everyone up late and wake them up early to do nit-picking, and clean our homes for hours every day. I know we seem to feel better when we DO something, but the only thing this hyper-vigilance will do is make us sick. ( I'm speaking mostly to the mothers - sorry Dads, I have yet to find a two-parent home where the father is the main person who takes control over the family head lice.)
As I have said before, when feelings of lice anxiety are leading you down this path, get control of your feelings and look at the facts:
- Extra house cleaning has no proven effectiveness in the fight against head lice. Or, I should say it has evidence-based ineffectiveness. Studies have shown that extra cleaning does nothing in this fight.
- Keeping children out of school, daycare, or other activities is not necessarily helpful; no-nit policies have been proven to be ineffective in keeping head lice out of these places.
- Head lice in most industrialized nations have developed a resistance to pesticidal treatments.
- Most alternative treatments have little or no proven effectiveness.
- The over-washing, over-combing, and over-treating of hair can often be the cause of scalp irritation - it can be the cause of itching and/or skin reactions.
1. Time - Not the 10-hour marathon horror stories that I hear from some parents. I mean, you need to know that you will be dealing with this for weeks and there is no getting around it, not even if you hire a lice professional. We all can miss something, so some time should be put into combing/picking every 2 or 3 days until you have had 2 weeks with no sightings of bugs or eggs. The amount of time you need to spend in this endeavor will decrease as the weeks go on.
2. A good lice comb. There have been effective nit-pickers throughout the years who never had the benefits of a good metal lice comb, but for the amount of time you save, I always recommend that you try to get one. Not a necessity, but exceptionally helpful when used in wet combing.
3. Good light. Natural or artificial, light directed on the head really makes it easier to see what's going on. For me, an inexpensive head lamp is a blessing. It brings you directed light wherever you go and keeps your hands free for combing and picking.
3. Perspective. This is just head lice. It is not the plague. You are not unhygienic or unclean if you have it. Head lice are simply a reality in our world. They have been around for ages and I expect we will still be dealing with them in the ages to come. They are a pain in the rear, but they don't have to be a tragedy if you don't let them.
Trust that you have what it takes to deal with this problem. Don't panic or start putting your family through a frenzy of frantic cleaning and unnecessary restrictions. Never let head lice keep you from getting sleep, eating well, and engaging in enjoyable activities. Never let head lice drain you financially or put your employment at risk. Push through that initial feeling of panic. Find a good friend to share your experience with. Take a breath. Be gentle with yourself. I know you can do this.