More great information...

Here is a link to a great information source.  It is a health bulletin on head lice from the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in Wales.  It gives links to great research and what I love about it is that it includes wet combing as a main treatment in the fight against head lice: http://www.wmic.wales.nhs.uk/pdfs/bulletins/Head%20Lice%20Bulletin%20Jan%202014.pdf 
While this publication also gives lots of information about chemical lice "treatments" (and you know I don't recommend them), it at least does not recommend products with permithrin (in Canada, this would be Nix which in my experience is the most prescribed lice treatment by health professionals).  I like that this article says that you don't have head lice if you don't find a live louse on the head.  (Old nits can stick around for a long time and do not indicate an active case of head lice.) Around wet combing, I have some different opinions than what is presented in this document - for instance, I have personally found metal combs to be more effective and I see no need to shampoo before a wet combing unless you want to.  I also much prefer the use of conditioner over vegetable oils - conditioner is much less messy, smells so much better, and rinces from the hair easily, whereas vegetable oils often don't come out without a stronger detergent such as dish soap. 
This publication mentions chemical treatments that are mechanical.  What this means is that they don't kill the lice and eggs by poisoning them.  (Nix and other permethrin based products do this - they are neurotoxins and the lice can adapt to these poisons over time.)  Mechanical treatments coat the lice and eggs and kill by either drying out the shell of the bug or egg or by plugging up the openings (mouth and anus) of the bug.  The idea is that because the animal is not affected by ingesting the product, they won't build a resistance to it. This may be a selling feature but I have been to many homes where all treatments we have available in Canada, including mechanical chemical treatments,  have been tried according to the product directions and living lice were still found.  Because the chemicals are not 100% effective, because they are costly, and because they all recommend manual lice removal to occur along with the treatment, I just think we should skip the unnecessary step and focus on the treatment that is readily available, cheap, and effective:  Multiple wet combings over time until there are no new sightings of lice or their eggs.  This document says that you can stop combing when you have had 3 thorough combings where no lice or eggs were found. On this blog, I say that you should have 2 weeks of combings with no sightings of lice or their eggs before you can say you are lice free.  If the 3 combings listed in this document are 4 days apart from each other as recommended, it means you have to comb and find nothing for 12 days.  12 days.  Two weeks.  Almost the same deal.
Anyway, this bulletin is a nice, research based overview that for once does not say that lice are spread in hats and bedding.  Check it out. 


Jen said...

Hi Cathy,
I have been trying to find contact information for you with no luck. Can you please send me you contact info?

Tina said...

Please help! I found out i had lice a few days ago and my aunts killed most of them and i killed some more the other day and so i havent seen any for 2 days, only eggs. However, my parents say that i have a billion eggs stuck to my scalp hair in such a way that it'd be impossible to get rid of it all with the comb (or so they say) but they showed me what it looks like and its white! so i'm assuming those are dead nits but im so paranoid are they going to stay there forever? should i just shave my whole head?? like i already cut my own hair by more than half yesterday and im planning to get a nape undercut (which i dont mind) but my parents say that there are nits not just at the base of my nape, but also at the top of my head and just basically anywhere!! what can i do? i'm so scared ahhh please help

Anonymous said...

our whole family had headlice a month an 1/2 ago. I really believe we got it all but then a week ago, my daughter said her head itched and I found a few headlice. So we did the shampoo and I searched her head - found like 5 live ones (adult size and maybe a slightly smaller one) and NO nits. 3 days later found two adults (and still can't find a NIT ANYWHERE). I am not sure how that is possible. Is it possible? She has long blond hair. Thanks.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

This is the thing about nits. They are easily missed. That's why we have to keep combing for two weeks even after we are certain we removed the last of them.

There is another possibility as well. Maybe you did get out all the lice and nits and maybe she got head lice again from another source or even the same source.

However, regardless of the reason for the new nits, your response is the same. Comb, comb, comb. Good luck.