Once again, people in our area are finding out that they have the dreaded headlice. Students are sent home from school and other people who are in the work force are also sent home as soon as it is discovered that they have lice. Of course lice are never good. Here is some information that I have dug up to help with this ugly parasite amongst us.
First of all, homes and schools don't get headlice--people do. Therefore, spraying your home, schools and other buildings to kill the lice is not necessary or recommended. Headlice are human parasites. They MUST have human blood if they are to survive. If a louse has lost human contact for 24 hours, it will die. So the best and safest way to clean your home is to vacuum nits off of uphostered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals, carseats, pillows, headrests, helmets--wherever an infected person has laid his/her head. Pesticidal sprays are unwarranted and may pose personal and environmental hazards.
In order to get lice, a person must come into contact with the head or hair of an infected individual. They can also be spread through the sharing of personal items such as hats, towels, brushes, helmets, hair ties, etc. They do not jump or fly from one person to another!
Many have thought that headlice were nothing more than a nuisance but recent scientific study refutes this notion. DNA technology shows headlice to be the same species as the notorious body louse which has long been assciated with diseases such as typhus and relapsing fever. The potential for disease transmission via the head louse should NOT be underestimated.
The NPA--National Pediculosis Association--warns against the use of any chemical to kill or destroy headlice in anyone who has a pre-existing health condition such as allergies, asthma, epilepsy, brain tumors, cancer AIDS, etc. Those on medications or who have been on headlice treatments before, pregnant or nursing mothers should not use or apply the chemicals to someone else.
The best way to rid someone of headlice is manual headlice removal. The use of mayonnaise and vaseline to smother lice is useless. Some believe in using Tea Tree Oil and its products to destroy headlice. Before using any of these, make sure that you read up on their uses. Though they may kill lice, they may also cause harm to humans from being irritating to skin or being toxic to livers.
The best thing to do is if you suspect that you have headlice is to contact your doctor and take his/her advice on the matter. Some prescribe shampoos, etc. Others recommend the use of over-the-counter lice treatments. Always instruct your children NOT TO SHARE towels, hairbrushes, hair ribbons, hats or helmets with others.