Head lice are pests that have plagued humankind for generations. Even though we do not like to admit it, most people feel nauseated when thinking of head lice. They make us think of dirty hair and people who are generally not very careful about hygiene.
All parents fear head lice—that dreaded infestation that's as hard to get rid of as it is unpleasant to have.
Many people want to know the facts about head lice. Still, there is a lot of misinformation, from what causes head lice to whether they are contagious. Here are some myths about head lice debunked!
One of the most common myths about head lice is that they are caused by uncleanliness. Head lice do not care how much you sweat at the gym or how dirty your hair is when you run your fingers through it every day.
Head lice do not discriminate, and they prefer clean hair to dirty hair. Head lice are only looking for a warm head to call home, and it does not matter whether it's clean or dirty. Head lice are not attracted to messy hair. Head lice are attracted to human blood. So your kids did not contract head lice because they did not shower after soccer practice. They got infected because they played with other kids whose heads were close enough for the head lice to crawl onto their heads.
Anyone who comes in contact with a person with head lice can become infected. They do not discriminate—anyone is at risk of head lice regardless of age, gender, or social status. But, head lice are most common among children ages 3 to 11 years old.
Do you think your dog may be host to some uninvited guests? Rest assured that human head lice do not live on animals, unlike fleas and ticks.
Pet lice look like human head lice. Still, pet lice are different insects and cannot survive on our scalps like human head lice. If you find fleas on your dog or cat, you may notice that they live in the pet's fur. Symptoms include itching and excessive scratching or licking of the skin. Contact your veterinarian for treatment recommendations if you suspect your pet has lice.
It is a common misconception that head lice can jump, fly, or even swim. They crawl from one head to another, spreading in small communities such as families and close friends. In larger groups, head lice are unlikely to spread without close contact between people. They cannot survive long without a human host, so they do not live more than a few days on pillows or other inanimate objects.
Unlike fleas, head lice do not jump from person to person. Head lice crawl from head to head and are only transmitted through direct contact with a person who already has head lice. Head lice do not crawl onto you when you pass someone in the hallway with head lice; they must be transmitted through close contact. Even if you hug someone with head lice, you will not get head lice unless the louse crawls from their head to yours.
Of course if you have been scratching your head, it's a sign that you might be infested with head lice. Head scratching is often caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva in the bug's bite. The itching may not occur until several weeks after the infestation.
But not everyone will experience this. Less than half of those infected with head lice develop an allergic reaction to head lice bites. It is best to get checked by a doctor if you feel any itch on your head or notice any red bumps or sores on your scalp from scratching too much.
But, just because a person does not itch does not mean they are free from an infestation, so it's good to check your head regularly.
It's alarming to know that there are different myths about head lice. Knowing the facts about head lice will help you identify them and treat them effectively if you suffer from infestations. Especially if you are a parent, knowing what things to look out for can be beneficial during an outbreak. Parents often use home remedies to treat head lice, which can worsen the condition.
Whether you have head lice or not, it can be helpful to understand the myths about the condition that could be causing your or your child's symptoms. So it's better to do your research before believing in information you read somewhere.
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