FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Why do I need a specialized fine-tooth comb to search for head lice?
Studies have shown that combing is four times more effective to detect head lice than using the fingers to part the hair and look for head lice. You need a prober and well documented fine-tooth comb in order to catch the head lice and their eggs. The accuracy of the design and precise distance between the teeth is vital. Don’t go for the cheapest, but ask your pharmacist for a good comb.
Do head lice cause itching?
Yes, but not always. When head lice suck blood, they inject saliva to prevent the blood from clotting during the blood sucking. This saliva may cause itching for some people, but not for everybody. Thus itching in itself is not a diagnostic marker for head lice infestation. You need to comb the hair with a good head lice comb to make a right diagnosis.
How many head lice can a person have?
Far more than a thousand! The average number found is much lower though: 10-12 head lice per head lice-infested head.
I have found head lice in my childs hair; how much cleaning and washing is needed in my house?
It is always nice to have a clean home. However – it has no influence on the head lice. They live in the hair on the head and stay there. A head louse that falls off the head is either dead or dying, and thus poses no risk.
Is the playroom in the kindergarten a greater source for infestation?
A common myth is that children get head lice from playing in the playroom of the kindergarten only because a lot of pillows and hairy teddy bears lay around. Children do not get head lice from the surroundings. If children are infested in the playroom, it is because they often have more head to head contact in the playroom – a perfect opportunity for the head lice to crawl from one head to another.
What do head lice eat?
Head lice are blood-feeding insects. They spend their entire life on the human scalp and feed exclusively on our blood.
Head lice are resistant towards head lice products, so do they work at all?
Some recent studies have found head lice resistance towards the traditional insect poison products in some countries. Today, several products which act physically (and not through the nervous system) are available. In theory, head lice cannot develop resistance towards these products, which makes them very effective; and they kill insect poison resistant head lice as well.
Do we need to send the children home from school when we find head lice on their heads?
Even though this is still a policy in some schools, there is no scientific reason why. On the contrary, you risk to stigmatize the children. Studies show that when head lice are found on a child, they have typically been there for several weeks and as such is not an acute problem. However, it is important to inform the parents. The childen must be in treatment before they are back to school again. In some schools they choose to hand out lice combs 2-3 times a year for the parents to check their children on the same day. In that way, they manage to keep the infestation rate low.
Does poor hygiene attract head lice?
No, head lice feed on blood and not dirt. Just as many head lice are found in clean hair as in dirty hair.
Can I get head lice from my pets?
No, dogs, cats, horses and birds – in fact most animals have their own kind of lice, but they cannot survive on humans. Conversely human head lice cannot survive on animals.
Are you more at risk if you have dandruff or a dry scalp?
No. Head lice only eat blood and don’t care if you have dandruff or not.
Can the occurrence of head lice be caused by the indoor climate of my home – for instance lack of ventilation?
Head lice live in the stable micro climate of the human scalp and hair: About 30C/86F and more than 90% air humidity. Lack of indoor ventilation has no influence on head lice infestation
Can I drown the head lice, if I go for a swim?
No. Even when head lice are under water, their spiracles will keep the water out. In fact, head lice can endure several hours in water without problems.
Do the head lice die if you stay long in a sauna?
No, our body regulates the temperature in the scalp so that it does not get dangerously high – neither to the head lice nor to ourselves.
Can head lice live in chest hair or beards?
The human species has three different lice: Head lice, body lice and crab lice. Crab lice can be found in chest hair and beards, but usually this kind of lice is found in pubic hair (in the crotch or in the armpits). However, in the western world crab lice are a species of lice in decline; probably due to the common shaving of pubic hair. Head lice cannot live in chest hair or beards.