For those of you terrified of lice, here’s help. The answers to our quiz demystify the common beliefs many of us have about these pesky critters.
- Only dirty children get lice.
False. Anyone can get lice—it’s not an indication of whether or not your child bathes regularly as lice can’t be washed away in the bath.
- African-American children can’t get lice due to the oils in their hair.
False. Anyone can get lice.
- Lice can become resistant to the chemicals used in lice shampoos, making the popular brands on the market today less effective at killing them.
True. In fact, many of the top brands of lice shampoos are no longer effective.
- Lice can change color to adapt to its host’s hair.
True. Dr. Aiyenuro said she has seen lice turn white or clear in blond hair and black in black hair.
- Children who share combs or hats can get lice.
False. Lice cannot live once off the host body. They need warmth and blood to keep them alive and die quite quickly once off.
- Little girls get lice more often than boys.
True. Little girls often put their heads together at school when coloring and hug more often, making it easier for lice to walk from one strand of hair to another. Plus, it is harder to detect lice in long hair, so an infestation may grow for a while before being treated.
- Lice can live in sheets and towels.
False. See # 5.
- Lice can jump from one child’s head to another.
False. Lice can’t jump or fly.
- Adults can get lice.
True. Parents should treat their hair if their child has lice.
- You can get lice lying on airplane pillow covers.
False. Again, see # 5.
- If you find a louse on your child’s hair, you’ll need to treat the hair over a two-week period to get the eggs that will hatch.
True. The eggs are the hardest to remove as they completely adhere to the hair shaft. Often, if lice have been killed, their eggs will hatch a week later and a family will have to go through the process again.
- The best approach to get rid of lice is to use a comb with tapered teeth and comb through your child’s hair lathered with conditioner in it.
True. Dr. Aiyenuro recommends using a bug busters kit. If you can’t find one, purchase a comb with tapered teeth and lather your child’s hair with conditioner and comb from one end to the other, cleaning the comb teeth after each brush to remove any lice.
- The best approach is to use chemical shampoo over a two-week period.
False. Not only have some lice become resistant to some chemicals, the chemicals themselves are not good for children to breathe and are harsh on their scalp.
- Once a child is bitten by lice, his immune system is compromised.
False. There is no evidence of this.
- If your child isn’t itching, he doesn’t have lice.
False. Some children do not itch when they have lice—so go ahead and comb through regularly to be on the safe side.