Frequently Asked Questions.
Head lice; What is it?
Head lice (pediculosis humanus captis) are a wingless, ectoparasitic- insect that lives on the head of humans: where they exclusively feed on human blood. They lay tiny eggs often called nits by gluing them to the hair shaft close to the scalp. Head lice are 2-3 mm long or the size of a sesame seed. They range in color from light tan, grey and brown. Each leg of the head lice ends in a claw used for gripping the hair and their heads are topped with multipurpose antennas. Eggs (nits) are usually tan, brown or almost black. shells (nits) are almost pearlescent. The male adult louse is smaller than the adult female louse and can be identified by the dark bands on its abdomen. Females have a "w" shape on the end of their body.
How do you get head lice?
From direct head to head or hair to hair contact with an infected individual. Less than 2% of active cases are due to picking up a stranded louse from a shared brush, hat, bedding etc. Head lice cannot jump nor, do they have wings to fly. The eggs (nits) are not contagious and do not hatch once removed from the head. Head lice have no prejudices and can affect anyone at any age and at any time of the year. They do not care how much money you have, your ethnicity, religion or how often you bathe. It was once thought that certain hair types could not get head lice due to hair texture or products used; this is false: If you have human blood you can get head lice.
Do head lice live in my home, car,in my child's classroom OR ON MY CHILD'S toys?
NO. Head lice are named for where they live and feed: The human head. The head louse’s natural habitat is?... you guessed it... the human head. They are not found in any remote jungles or outside in your yard. Head lice must have a blood meal to survive. Nymphs must eat 1-2 hours after hatching while adult head lice feed every 2-4 hours. They will become dehydrated and weak after their first missed meal: being on their death bed after 12 hours. A louse found off the head is usually injured or dying and would not be able to secret enough, or any saliva used to feed. It is very rare for Head lice to survive off a human host for over 24 hours.
Can you get head lice from pets AND OTHER ANIMALS?
There are over 3,000 different species of lice; and they are all host specific. Humans get three types of sub species of lice: Head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Dogs get their own type of lice and same goes for mice, cattle, horses, elephants and so on. Even whales get whale lice. So, no worries.... you cannot catch head lice from Fido or grandma’s chickens!
How do you avoid getting head lice?
Avoiding head lice starts with you and being proactive.
To better your chances of not contacting head lice: keep longer hair up, braided or combed neatly for short hair when around other children or a known active case. Hair strands become a bridge for head lice to travel from one head to another, so keeping strands contained can greatly decrease the chance of contacting head lice. Send your child to sleep overs with their own pillow and blanket etc... Also, a mint based shampoo used 2x a week and a mint spray used daily can be used in prevention as mint makes one's head undesirable as head lice hate it. Be cautious using tea tree oil, not only is it poisonous if swallowed, it has also been linked to possible breast growth in prepubescent boys if used often and/or in high doses. More studies still need to be done on this link so we recommend airing on the side of caution. Tea tree may work but Peppermint works better.
There is no guarantee a person will never contact head lice even using preventative measures; so regular head checks with a good head lice comb should become part of every family’s weekly routine. The National Pediculosis Association says “once a week take a peek” And we agree! The sooner you discover head lice on you or a family member the sooner you can break the life cycle before it gets out of hand or possibly passed to someone else. Early detection is key to staying head lice free.
How else can I better HELP myself/family STAY head lice FREE?
I found head lice. Now what?
Do not panic! once head lice is found its likely been there for a while. Head lice are over 90-100% resistant to OTC pesticides and some prescription pesticides; our children are not and can have awful reactions to these out dated treatments. Head lice have been hitching a ride on humans for a LONG time. There is no quick fix or magical home remedy: If there was it would be marketed, and head lice infestations would not be on the rise. Home remedies may seem like a good safe choice but in fact they are risky, messy and in many cases can cause awful reactions and even deaths. A lot of OTC, prescription and home remedies can even make proper treatment of head lice more difficult. (Click here to read more about symptom and risks) Combing with a good lice comb is the safest and most effective way of getting rid of all stages of head lice and eggs(nits). No matter what you use you still have to remove all of the eggs (nits) or you risk prolonging the infestation because nothing besides removal kills the nits. All house hold members need to be checked. Only those who have head lice should be treated as treatment is not a preventive. There are many treatment options available; no matter what treatment route you choose: wrapping the head in plastic or a shower cap or using flammable fluids is never safe. It is important you do what is best for you and your family but please know you are not alone and professional help is available.
what should I look for when choosing a head lice service?
When choosing a head lice removal service be sure ask how long they've been in business, client references and any training they have. We recommend when given the choice any Shepherd certified company. (national and international directory) The Shepherd institute is founded and instructed by Katie Shepherd who is globally recognized as one of the top head lice experts and her team at lice solutions resource network; the only non-profit organization for the research and treatment of head lice in the world. Be wary of any company offering additional services such as car detailing, laundry, house cleaning, extermination services or products to spray around your house. Only light cleaning is needed, and you can accomplish this on your own at no extra charge. It has been proven that head lice do not live in the environment but on the head where the focus should be: this is a fast way to see who not only has full knowledge of head lice but those who may be taking advantage of your situation. Gimmicks are also a red flag; you have to remove every egg(nit) even after killing or removing all the bugs; also keep an eye out for extra unnecessary steps or companies advising you to use any product for days, weeks or months. Head lice and eggs(nits) can usually be taken care of in one sitting in just a few hours, unless the infestation is extreme, or you personally choose to do so, constant combing after treatment by a Shepherd Certified company is not needed. We recommend combing 2xs a week to form a habit of weekly checks. Because people can be as unpredictable as head lice we cannot guarantee that you and/or your child will never again be exposed to head lice. We do however guarantee that we are dedicated to being 100% honest and will provide you with all the tools, education and support needed for continued success of staying head lice free.