My name is Melanie, and I am a professional lice technician. Yes, I treat people who have head lice for a living. Did you just cringe? I know the thought of head lice gives most people the heebie-jeebies. You are probably scratching your head now too. Haha! All kidding aside, lice has become a serious issue for a lot of parents these days. They complain to me that they are constantly hearing about lice, getting lice notices home from school, or are the unlucky ones who keep getting lice. Most parents do not remember it being like this when they were kids. Most ask me the same thing you are probably thinking right now. Why does it seem like lice are so prevalent? There are a couple reasons for this.
The first reason is our children are more head to head these days. Most of our children have their own hand held electronic devices and they are huddled together head to head looking at Apps, video games, pictures, social media sites, taking selfies... etc. This is unfortunate because lice are primarily spread by head to head contact with an individual who is already infested with head lice. I find that most parents are unaware of their child’s lice issue for 2-3 weeks after they become infected. At this point they are contagious and sharing lice it with other family members and friends unknowingly.
The second reason for this prevalence is lice are much harder to get rid of these days. Lice and their eggs have become resistant to the old medications that had kept them in check for so long. The permethrin based lice shampoos are not very effective anymore. There was a study recently done by the University of Massachusetts who looked at children all over the U.S. with lice and tested the bugs. The results were that between 13% and up-to 98% of the lice were resistant to permethrin. You can check it out; The Doctors did a small segment about lice and this study July 17, 2013. On top of the shampoos not working well these days, the nit combs that come in lice treatment kits or that you can buy in a store are junk! These combs leave behind way too many eggs and this is an issue. Eggs equal more bugs, bugs make more eggs and this is the perpetual problem.
Before moving on I want to share my thoughts on permethrin. My advice is not to use it! First and foremost it is not 100% effective, why waste your money? Secondly it is a harsh chemical insecticide and you are putting it on your head. Most of my clients that use it before really knowing about it and its ineffectiveness have horrible dry scalp and hair issues afterwards and of course they still have lice. The furniture sprays that you can get to “treat” your house are also permethrin based. Before you get this and spray it all over your home know that permethrin is highly toxic to some animals, especially fish and cats. You could unintentionally harm your pets with something that may not even do its intended job. Don't do it!!
The number one thing you should be doing is preventing lice and there are two great ways to do this. You can use natural oils like peppermint, lavender, citronella and rosemary to repel lice. I use peppermint and have bottled my own prevention spray to share with the families I treat. The kids don't complain about the scent as much and it is safe for a pregnant mother to use. I use my Mint Spray daily to help repel lice but it is not a fail-safe. I also have to do regular head checks and I advise all the families I treat to do the same. I use my NitFree comb at least once a week. I am around lice on a regular basis and have not become infected. If I have a “lousy” day I come home and immediately comb through myself. If I have accidentally picked up a bug or two, the comb will pull them out before they can start a problem. If your child has been exposed to lice, grab your comb. You have the ability to stop and infestation before it starts. These are very simple things to do to prevent a big problem!