Margaret Cho sings "Lice"

Margaret Cho, comedian extraordinaire, performed a soulful song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that I will be singing for days.  Anything that puts the lowly louse in the spotlight is welcome and refreshing.  It is musically lovely and a truly enjoyable performance. But as you listen, see if you can you find the misconceptions about how to manage this critter crisis.
  • The song starts with an implication that you get lice from an impoverished nation. Lice has no nationality - wherever there are humans, you will probably find lice. Though, there are some populations which seemingly have a lower chance of getting head lice.  At least for now.
  • In this song, Cho says you need shampoo, which I'm assuming means a pesticide treatment.  This is not true, especially when the pesticide in the most popular lice "shampoos" have been shown to be ineffective. Lice have built a resistance to them.
  • Cho mentions a fine toothed comb.  If you have lice, this is your greatest weapon in the fight.  Combs with long, rigid, metal teeth are the best. Plastic fine toothed combs, while still somewhat effective on getting out adult bugs, are not as effective on eggs and nymphs.
  • Shaving the head.  Drastic, yes. Not the way I would go but it is a way to get rid of your head lice in no time at all. Just getting an army buzz cut isn't enough - lice can still thrive on a scalp with very little hair. Did you watch the end of the song?  Cho totally rocks that look. In the song, shaving the head is mentioned in the context of having dreadlocks.  I have to say, I know of no truly effective ways to treat head lice on people with dreads. If I had dreads for religious reasons, head lice wouldn't be a good enough reason to shave my head. Since someone with dreads can't get a lice comb through the hair, the fast blowing air of a blow dryer might be their next best tool.
  • With lice you don't have to 'go to the mattresses'.  In fact, you don't have to do anything with your mattress because lice don't live on your furniture. They live on your scalp.  Save the dragging of your mattress outside to bake in the hot sun for your bed bug problem. Lice also do not thrive in your garbage. Do they make apartments in your ears? No. Around your ears? Yes.
  • Will lice seem like they are dead after a shower? Sort of.  When wet, lice sort of hunker down and close themselves off - they move more slowly and may seem like they are no longer a problem. But those suckers can hold their breath for a long time and can stay alive in water for a day. So, while your shower won't get rid of your lice problem, a wet louse, is easier to detect and comb out.  And if you add some hair conditioner, you can even get the nits out more easily too. 
Even though I disagree with some of Cho's lice premises, I still love the song. Head lice shouldn't be something that we freak out about. Some laid-back humour is just what we need to get through the pain-in-the-arse that head lice is. Anything to get us past the stigma of having this very common pest.

Now, if I could only find out where I can get that awesome louse hoodie.


Anonymous said...

So my daughter was playing with a child 11 days ago and the parents informed me 4 days ago that just discovered their daughter has lice...adult lice, nymphs, eggs. So based on life cycle info, was my daughter even exposed? I've been checking her like a crazy person with a fine plastic tooth comb and see no evidence of lice...her scalp and hair are clean as a whistle. Do I need to do your recommended conditioner/wet hair/special comb procedure for a check? I would need to find a mature louse capable of laying the hard to see eggs first, right? How much longer do I keep checking or are we in the clear? Thanks so much!

momxofxthree said...

Looks like your link to the Lousebuster article from U Utah are broken. Here's the new link: http://archive.unews.utah.edu/news_releases/the-lousebuster-kills/

I definitely appreciate your site, picked up some lice from some young friends and don't have anyone nearby who has good enough eyesight to see the little things. So it's really good to have your info.

Unknown said...

Can you please give me some advice. My youngest daughter (3) has crazy curly almost afro like hair, although we are caucasian. My eldest daughter has been battling headlice for a while and we do wet combings regular ( i think shes getting reinfested from somewhere. Anyway my youngest was scratching her head and i did a quick check and spotted a adult lice. However because of her hair ( which is never combed , only finger combed) she nearly had a seizure while i tried to nitcomb it, she made herself throwup she was that upset and my husband had to physically hold her. Obviously this was extremly traumatising for both of us and what i would love to know is there a way to do it without combing. If i used a treatment every week for a couple of weeks would this work? Ive looked through her hair and i cant see any noticable nits or lice. Im afraid if i had to comb it again id have to sedate her! Sorry for the long post but would really love to hear your opinion

Valerie Harris said...

My daughter is 6 years old and I found a few nits on her hair. We did a nix treatment two days ago and didn't wash her hair until today. We are on vacation in Florida and I let her swim in the pool today and then I read that you are not supposed to swim in chlorinated water for two weeks after treatment! Should I re treat her? I wish it would have said this on the directions but nowhere did it mention swimming . It just said don't shampoo hair for two days.

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