9/24/2014

Question period...

Many questions have come up in recent comments and conversations. I think that there are others that might have similar questions, so I thought I'd answer some questions here to the best of my ability.

Question: I combed and got rid of the lice but found no nits.  Am I lice free?

Answer: Where there's smoke there's usually fire and where there's lice, there are usually nits.  Not always, but you should keep on wet combing every few days just in case a missed nit turns into a unwanted bug.  When you have been regularly combing for 2 weeks with no new bug sightings, that's when I think you can breathe a sigh of relief and reduce your combing to routine lice checking.

Question: Two months ago we had head lice and we beat it but now my daughter has it again.  Why?

Answer: I don't know.  Either something was missed the last time your daughter had lice or she just got it again from someone else.  Beating lice once doesn't mean that you will never get lice again.  Just take a breath and start combing.  Remember, don't waste your time on ineffective busy work - no extra laundry washing, vacuuming, or bagging up toys.  Just get those suckers off the head.

Question: Is there anything I can do to prevent from getting head lice?

Answer:
Nope.  Well, you could avoid all human contact for the rest of your life but since this would lower your quality of life significantly, I wouldn't recommend it.  Preventative "treatments" don't work.  Just do a routine lice wet combing once in a while and if you find lice, you'll be able to deal with it quickly before it becomes a huge problem.

Question: Can head lice be spread to me if my hand touched someone who had head lice?

Answer: No. Lice are not a virus.  You're not going to get head lice from someone you shake hands with. Even if you picked the louse off someone's head, you won't get lice unless you drop it on your own head. Lice are spread through head to head contact.  Lice move from warm to warm and are rather useless off of the head. When I was doing lice and nit picking in people's homes, I never got head lice from anyone I worked with. Health professionals or hairdressers should not worry about getting head lice from the people they work with unless they are particularly "huggy".

Question: We got rid of the head lice, but my head is still itchy.  Does this mean I still have lice? 

Answer: Not necessarily.  If you've done the combing over the appropriate amount of time and have no signs of the bugs, you're probably still reacting to the bite.  When you get a mosquito bite, the bug doesn't have to be around for you to itch, right?  But the itch bothers you for quite a while.  Same with lice.  You also could be itchy because combing and blow drying and picking can irritate your scalp.  And if you are a person who also did some sort of chemical treatment, this could be irritating as well.  And then there is simply the possibility that after having head lice, you are now hyper-sensitive to any itch on your head.  Hey, I'm scratching my head right now just writing this.  This is normal.  But when in doubt, do a wet combing.

Question: I have dandruff.  I have psoriasis.  How can I tell if the itch is head lice?

Answer: Try to minimize the skin flakes using whatever treatment your doctor recommends.  Skin issues are not my specialty but if you can reduce the flakes, you will reduce the confusion about what you see in your lice comb.  Lice eggs don't look like dandruff - they are uniform in shape and not bumpy or irregular like skin flakes.  But if you are still unsure if you have nits, you can be sure that lice themselves don't look like skin flakes.  If someone in your home has lice, you should be thoroughly wet combing on a regular basis.  If you don't find bugs after two weeks, it is likely that they are not the cause of your itch.

Question: We haven't had lice for months and I just found a nit.  Do we have head lice again?

Answer: Not necessarily.  Where was the nit?  Was it right near the scalp? Start combing just in case.  Was it 3 inches down the hair shaft? Don't worry too much but still do regular lice checks as part of your family's routine.

Question: My mom got the lice out of my hair but she still wants me to shave my head because she is overwhelmed with all the egg shells.  She thinks we will never get them out.  Is shaving my head my only option?

Answer:  If you are absolutely certain you have rid yourself of lice but still have the egg shells in your hair, you don't have to remove them but I know they don't look pretty.  A good metal lice comb and a good wet combing with water and conditioner can still remove most of them. I once was at a home where there was a girl with long hair who had had lice for years.  Her hair had so many egg shells through out that it looked like someone had shaken powder all over her head.  It looked like an almost insurmountable problem.  However, when I started combing, I soon found she had no more actual lice than most of my other clients but the egg shell ridden hair really put people off.  I combed and combed and combed and by the end of the night, her hair looked egg free.  A worker from the girl's school called me the next day to ask me what I had used in the child's hair and was amazed that I had simply combed.  So, shaving your head is not your only option. (I have to admit though, it is quicker.)

And as for the rest of the questions:

Don't waste time wondering where you got lice, why you got lice again, or what you ever did to deserve this.  If one person in the house has head lice, it doesn't mean that everyone will but everyone should still be combed regularly. Lice happens.  They suck (literally) but you can always outrun them.  Even if you are on your own, a good metal lice comb and regular, thorough wet combing with conditioner can beat this problem.  A hair dryer can help too - read this blog for more info about this. Don't waste time on dealing with head lice that are not on the head - no extra house cleaning for you.  With a bit of consistent effort and some perspective (it's just head lice!) you can beat this.

15 comments:

Sue Ferenczy said...

After using chemicals to kill the headlice, I have been advised to soak the head in Listerine under a shower cap every night for seven day. Over night or even for an hour, either way is this an effective treatment? Does ANYTHING kill the unhatched nits?
I also wonder if Dawn dish soap would kill the lice, It kills fleas better than flea shampoo. In fact, I found one of the lice was still wiggling its legs so I doused it with Dawn, It finallly stopped. PS THANK YOU FOR Giving me permission to breathe and THINK without panic. God Bless you!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Hello!
Sorry, but I would never recommend soaking your head in Listerine for one night, let alone seven. It might cause problems worse than head lice should it get in the eyes or should someone have a reaction to it in their scalp. As for the dish soap or any other creams, lotions, liquids, or 'shampoos', you know from reading this blog that I don't put much stock in them. In the time that it takes to use these 'remedies', you should just do wet combing with conditioner.

If you want another really effective tool against nits, check out the blog posts that talk about using a hair conditioner on a warm, fast blowing setting.

Anonymous said...

I am so frustrated by our school district's "no-nit" policy! My daughter has been lice/nit free for a week, but because she has egg casings still in her hair the school will not let her back. There is no nurse at the school, so the woman who checks for lice has only limited training and she claims that these egg casings are nits...and there's nothing I can do to change her mind. In the mean-time my daughter is missing school and I have spent two hours a night combing her hair. Those egg casings are CEMENTED to her hair! I wish people would educate themselves. Lice is gross and frustrating, but it IS NOT A HEALTH HAZARD! Thank you for your blog and your efforts to get the info out there!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

If your school has a restrictive no-nit policy, I would check if your local health authority has any online info about this. Where I live, the local health authority has changed some of their literature on head lice but the schools, who say they base their info on the local health authority's advice, have not made any changes to their policies. Or, go to some of the links in this post for information from other leading health professionals that say no-nit policies are not effective and are excessive and give some of that to your school. Do you have a public health nurse that would confirm that your child's head lice is under control? If so, maybe they could contact the school and provide them with a little education. (However, I've met different nurses that were in favour of no-nit policies, so find one that knows the most current info.) Good luck.

Alyson Sager said...

I have had head lice for almost a month now. Today, my mother helped me comb my hair with the nit brush and we found 2 live, baby's. We already tried shampoo and a spray. We are thinking about calling the docter on Monday. We need help!

MommyT said...

My daughter came up with lice right before Christmas, so I told no one. I treated her at home 2x and combed and combed and was pretty sure she was fine before school began again. I have no idea where she got th to begin with, but I'm pretty sure it was at school. So it's there anyways. A few months later, 2 of her friends ended up with lice and then my daughter got them again. There is NO WAY that anyone can say that they got every single nit unless they comb and comb for weeks and there's no guarantee that they won't get it again. I say that after a child is treated, they should be at school!

Anonymous said...

Our 7 person family and all of their friends have had lice on and off for almost a year. The kids friends and I have figured out that we have to keep checking and checking and get rid of them as soon as they appear. I had them too. I can't stop checking my hair because I still itch. It's been a month and I finally got my oldest son to go through it piece by piece with a really good comb for and hour...nothing, except skin and blood from my scalp from lice bites. My kids got a few lice bites but they didn't really bother them. Mine are everywhere. Normally u would find them around the ears and on the back of the head and neck. MiNE are all over the top of my head. Sometimes they itch like crazy. I am a picker. If I have a scab of some sort it's very difficult for me to not pick at it. If I pick at at one, it just becomes more itchy.I've put hyrocortizone cream in my hair, neosporum to prevent infection and help them heal. I sprayed Benadryl on my head, home herbal recipes etc to stop the itching which would help me to stop picking at them. They won't go away and it's driving me to tears. I keep checking my head for lice and searching for "new" bites and there's nothing but these stupid bites. As well, I've been all over online and people hardly make any mention the bites. That says to me that for others, it's not a big problem. Why is it for me?

MommyT said...

My daughter came up with lice right before Christmas, so I told no one. I treated her at home 2x and combed and combed and was pretty sure she was fine before school began again. I have no idea where she got th to begin with, but I'm pretty sure it was at school. So it's there anyways. A few months later, 2 of her friends ended up with lice and then my daughter got them again. There is NO WAY that anyone can say that they got every single nit unless they comb and comb for weeks and there's no guarantee that they won't get it again. I say that after a child is treated, they should be at school!

Unknown said...

I'm a stylist my client has lice and I didn't find out until after a wash her hair I put my bear hand thur her hair while I was washing it I even touch the hair towel that had the lice . My question is can I get it just by touching her scalp ?

Anonymous said...

They said this in the article but no, you cannot get headlice that way. You can only get lice from head to head contact so as long as you aren't rubbing your head on them or vice versa you should be fine.If you're really worried about spreading lice, boil any of the combs or brushes you used on them.

Rachael said...

Do any of you get really itchy hands after doing a lice treatment on your kids? My hands itch for days after, even if I wash them right after doing the treatment. I'm using gloves next time.

Rachael said...

Do any of you get really itchy hands after doing a lice treatment on your kids? My hands itch for days after, even if I wash them right after doing the treatment. I'm using gloves next time.

Lucinda Story said...

I know this is 2 years late, but it sounds like you have/had bedbugs not lice. I hope you're well now

Anonymous said...

Can you get lice from anything other then head to head contact?

Anonymous said...

Like if someone walks behind you and their hair touches yours? Can you get them that way?