No Cleaning, No Cry

I am a bit baffled.  Lately, I've been getting comments from people who say they love reading the blog but that they are exhausted by all the cleaning that you have to do when you have head lice.

Which once again makes me wonder if they have really read many posts.

Because if you read the research, you know that extra cleaning doesn't do anything in the fight against head lice.  Lice are not spread by inanimate objects in any significant way.  Lice researcher Ian Burgess has basically said that if a louse falls off your head, it is either dead or dying. Those suckers are designed to stay on the head.  In the 2010 paper, "Indirect Transmission of Head Lice via Inanimate Objects", researchers Deon V. Canyon and Rick Speare conclude: "The control of head lice should focus on the head, not on the environment.  Head lice scholars should focus on how to limit reinfestation rather than providing erroneous control advice...The promotion of inanimate objects that play an epidemiologically important role in head lice dispersal is unsupported by the evidence base..."

What does this mean?  You are not going to get head lice from your couch.  Or your bedding. In this paper, the authors call bedding a "hostile environment" for head lice.  Which means, lice don't want to leave your head because it has the climate (the right temperature) and the sustenance (your blood) that it needs to survive.  Lice will not find this on your cool linen sheets. Or on a hair brush.  Or on a hat.  So don't waste your time cleaning or laundering these things beyond your normal cleaning routine. Excessive cleaning won't help in the fight and it certainly could hurt (exhaustion, burnout, stress, anxiety, extra expenses, etc.)  When I did lice removal in the home, I would sometimes hear, "I didn't have time to do the lice combing what with all of the cleaning and laundry I've had to do." Constant cleaning makes us feel like we are dealing with the problem and being effective, but it is a sad illusion. It is the combing that gets rid of the head lice, not the cleaning.

You are going to get head lice from the head of someone else who has it. Head to head.  And you can't even be 100% certain who that person is, so don't waste your time worrying about that either. Follow the advice of the researchers.  Focus on the head, not on the environment.