Hire a professional or don't. Either way, you still gotta put in some time.

Here's a question I just received:

"My friend said she had lice but she got treated two weeks ago. She said that the first time you get treated at places like (insert lice removal salon here), you cannot give lice to someone else. You can't spread. Is this true?"

Here's my answer:

The answer to this is not so cut and dry. If someone is known to have had head lice, I generally assume that they still have it until there have been no sightings of new lice or nits for two weeks. However, just because a person may still have head lice, it doesn't mean that they are necessarily able to spread it. A lice professional will usually be able to remove all adult bugs in the first sitting. It is the adult bug that can leave the head - newly hatched nymphs will not venture off the head for at least a week. So, a person with head lice may be of no immediate threat to others (which is one reason I'm against no-nit policies in schools and day care centres). But let's say that a tiny nymph was missed by the lice professional.  In 7-10 days, if no further combing had been done, there would be a new adult louse on the head that would be able to transfer to someone else through head-to-head contact.

While I generally trust experienced lice professionals (as long as they focus on lice removal over pushing lice "shampoos"), I never underestimate head lice.  I challenge lice professionals who claim to deal completely with your head lice problem in one visit. If they get the bugs out, the chances that they've missed an egg or even a tiny louse,  are still high. When I do home visits, I always offer a free follow up. This is because I believe that everyone should have a second visit with the professional - all of this and I still instruct families to still keep up with their own lice combing. I respect head lice and their resiliency. No matter what "treatment", no matter which professional is utilized, the affected head should still be thoroughly wet combed every couple of days with a good metal lice comb until at least 2 weeks have passed with no new sightings of lice or nits.

Now remember, you don't NEED a lice professional and I really have a problem with professionals that tell people that you must use an expensive product or service in order to deal with lice effectively. I've seen too many hard-working, low-income families who put themselves at risk by throwing away hundreds of dollars and buckets of sanity over their lice problem because of some "expert advice". I've seen people who give up because they feel they will never be able to afford the cost of "treatments" or services.  You know, head lice was dealt with effectively before the invention of salons and chemicals and paid services and fancy tools.  Back in the day, if someone had head lice, you just got in some good light, buckled down, and nitpicked for hours, everyday, until the lice were gone.  Yes, that actually works.

Lice removal professionals are more like housekeepers than health care workers. Everyone can vacuum, but some people don't want to so they hire a cleaner.  Everyone can deal with their own head lice problem, but some people don't want to and that's OK as long as they can truly afford it.  There are times you might want to use the services of a lice professional. (Read my post about this here.) but it isn't a necessity AND using their services won't let you off the hook - you will still have to do lice checking and combing at home.


Angela said...

Thank you for this info- I love your tone and your matter of fact way of discussing these creepy crawlies. I have been trawling the internet since our first find a couple of days ago- and you have by far the best lice info.

Very helpful and informative- and even funny- which is so important when dealing (cue the spooky music...)lice.

thanks again

Jason Knight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

To the last commenter,
Pleaase don't advertise your services here. If you have expertise to share, start your own blog. It's a great way to connect with people.

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