What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny six-legged blood-sucking parasites. Each leg is equipped with a claw, enabling the lice to grasp onto the shaft of the child's hair. They can vary in color from grayish white to reddish brown. Head lice, like chameleons, have the ability to adapt to their environment.
The female louse lays her eggs by gluing them to your hair shafts. She will produce approximately 200 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs, or nits as they're commonly called, generally hatch in 7 to 10 days. Once hatched, they have a life expectancy of approximately 30 days.
Lice are wingless and cannot jump or fly. They can, however, move with amazing speeds.
They depend on human blood for survival. A louse separated from its human host will rarely survive more than 24 hours.
Where do they come from?
No one knows for sure. Evidence of lice existence has been documented as far back as ancient times.
How do we get them?
In most all cases lice are transmitted from one human host to another, brought about mainly as a result of head-to-head contact.
Certain people just seem to attract lice. Head lice are always on the lookout for a favorable environment.
There are many factors that draw head lice to one individual over another. Blood type and Rh factor are among them.
Are children the only ones who get head lice?
While it's more commonly spread among children, parents and other adults are not immune.
When hair has contact with another’s hair (and it will), if that person has lice and you are a favorable environment, you take the risk of exposing yourself to an uninvited houseguest.
Isn't it a sign of being dirty?
Head lice actually prefer a clean head of hair. Lice, however, are not prejudicial. A louse’s only concern is for its own survival. To accomplish this, the louse needs to feed and is always looking for the most convenient means of doing so.
Will it help if I wash my child's hair daily?
This is nice in theory but wrong in actuality. Since nits are glued to the hair, all the brushing and washing on earth won't change that fact. The eggs are coated with a fixative substance, which literally cements them to the hair shaft. They are blood-sucking parasites with crab-like claws. They can attach themselves to your hair and will hang on for dear life.
What about putting lots of gel on the child’s hair?
While we hear this question a lot, we strongly discourage it. It does nothing to prevent head lice. It's far simpler to take a few extra minutes to brush the hair and pull it back, thus closing the bridge that invites a louse over.
How do I know for sure that my child has head lice?
The most obvious way is the usual itchy scalp so commonly, but not always, found in head lice cases. The only way to confirm your suspicions, however, is by a thorough examination of your child's hair. Making head lice exams a part of your regular routine will allow you to identify the problem at its onset and thus prevent head lice from taking over your family, your home and your life.
if I find head lice?
If you do find head lice on your child's head, take care of the problem right
away. Each day wasted is an increased opportunity for reproduction, not to
mention the additional chances of spreading to others.
How you treat the problem is entirely up to you. There are a lot of products on
the market but remember, many of these are pesticides. If you feel you must use
them, do so sparingly, and be careful to follow all directions. Whether you
choose a pesticidal shampoo product or go with one of the newer non-toxic
products, it is important to understand that 100% removal cannot occur without
hours of painstakingly picking all of the nits out.
Thankfully, many new products have been developed, helping to ease your burden.
Among this new generation of lice combs is the Terminator comb. Its patented
design helps parents eliminate some 85% of their child’s lice and nits.
Another product that continues to draw attention is the Robi Comb. Be careful,
however, that while the Robi Comb has proven to be helpful in eliminating live
lice (particularly adults), it does little, if anything, to rid the nits.
If the thought of all this is making you crazy, as is true with Lice Solutions,
there are several other companies offering nit removal services. While in most
cases a cost will occur, the end result is often having it done right the first
time, in less time and at a substantial savings compared to the parents’
failed attempts to end their problem. If you are fortunate enough to have nit
removal services in your area, don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
long have you been providing this service?
did you receive your training?
method of nit removal do you use?
your treatment process safe?
is your success rate?
you provide followup?
guarantees, if any, do you offer?
about other family members? Do you check them as well, and if so, is there a
Be wary of any service that claims to have a 100% success rate, and remember a
truly efficient service will also examine the heads of all members of the
One last point and probably the most important of all, be careful to notify
anyone that might have come in contact with your child.
How bad is the problem?
Head lice are one of the number one reasons for absenteeism in schools across
It’s impossible to know exactly how many cases of head lice there are each
year. Statistics derived from product sales, however, suggest that the U.S.
alone sees over 12 million cases of head lice each year. It is estimated that
parents spend 150 million dollars annually trying to be rid of this problem. The
cost is far greater when you factor in the missed wages that often occur as a
result of parents being forced to miss work while tending to their child's head
How bad is the problem? Bad enough to wreak havoc around the world! Bad enough
to pit parents against school administrators. Bad enough for children to accept
the blame and shame for a problem in which they have little control over.
Why has this become such a problem?
Head lice are insects and like other insects, repeated exposure to chemicals
over an extended period of time has allowed the lice to build up a resistance to
the very products once used to kill them.
Another important factor is the failure to follow through with precautionary
measures. While mega cleaning is not necessary, and the environment does not
play as important a role as it was once thought, you must still exercise
common-sense cleaning. The best advice is to think of your life in a 24-hour
window. Consider what items you had contact with in that time period and keep
your focus on those items only. Remember, lice DO NOT live in your home. The
problem is on your head and the heads of those around you. Additionally is the
risk that parents just aren’t getting it all out. If nits are left on the hair
to hatch, the cycle will start all over again. Equally important is the need to
recognize and remove nymphs. Often as tiny as the tip of a very sharp pencil,
nymphs grow to start families of their own. Finally, don’t forget it is a
While resistance issues are considered a large factor, they are far from being
totally responsible. As the pharmaceutical companies are quick to point out, the
directions on the package are there for a reason. Unless you are willing to read
and follow them in their entirety, you can't expect the products to end the
Keep in mind that head lice need blood to survive, so rather than stripping your
sheets daily, running the vacuum three times a day and bagging every toy your
child owns, your time is better spent checking and combing his or her head and
communicating with those around you. Nit removal is a tedious enough job without
overburdening yourself with unnecessary cleaning techniques. You need not drive
yourself to a state of hysteria or have a nervous breakdown in an attempt to
regain a normal lifestyle. One final note on all of this is to keep in mind how
this affects your child. We don't want children to feel that it's their fault or
to feel ashamed because they have head lice. It happens! We must stress that to
the children as well. Deal with it, get over it, and go on with our lives!
Is there any danger?
For the most part, head lice themselves are an irritating problem. While in some
cases their saliva can produce an allergic reaction among certain individuals,
these reactions are usually mild compared to the risk involved with many shampoo
Products containing Lindane have caused the greatest concerns. Exposure to the
neurotoxic product has been linked to seizures, developmental disabilities,
hormone disruption and worse yet--cancer. Thanks to the EPA, one can no longer
use Lindane as a source of treatment when dealing with our animals or our
environment; as it is considered too dangerous an option. The only use, and I
repeat, the ONLY use, still allowed, is as an ingredient in shampoos and lotions
for the treatment of head lice and scabies. Thankfully, many states, including
California, New York, and Michigan have taken this decision out of the FDA’s
hands and banned the pharmaceutical use within their states.
Adding to the dangers is the fact that many parents fail to follow proper
directions, leaving the shampoo on longer than recommended or re-treating too
quickly. Improper treatment is one of the biggest causes of re-infestation and
among the greatest dangers to your child. Another such danger, and one clearly
marked on the shampoo packaging, is the danger in treating a child under the age
of 3 or the use of such products by pregnant individuals.
What is being done about it?
The National Pediculosis Association was formed in 1982. Since then the
Association has made great strides in increasing awareness through research and
education. The group fought to limit the use of potentially harmful products
containing dangerous chemicals such as Lindane and was also instrumental in
establishing the current No Nit Policy still utilized in many schools today. The
NPA was also instrumental in recognizing the importance of combing and through
their research they helped to revolutionize the way we treat head lice, with the
use of better and more effective combs.
Many new combs are now available. The Terminator’s micro-grooved design in a
spiral form makes combing even more effective. The end result is less time than
manually picking and a greater success rate upon completion. A comb comparison
study performed in our West Palm Beach office in May of 2007 on 100
lice-infested individuals found the Terminator comb outperformed the Lice
Meister by 2 to 1 and the Rid comb by almost 4 to 1. Clearly, the more effective
the comb, the greater the chance of ending the problem quickly. Regrettably,
however, most retailers continue to ignore these facts, instead continuing to
order products that are easier to stock, rather than those that have been proven
to work the best. The Nit Terminator comb can purchased from Lice Solutions at
our online store.
Many concerned parents have banned together to help form various types of
organizations dedicated to help fight this pesky parasite. While great strides
have been made in the fight against head lice, it’s still not enough. Now no
longer a popular cause, head lice risk is being swept under the rug. Only by
continuing to ban together, by speaking up for more proactive measures in your
schools and your community, can we prevent head lice from escalating your area.
How can I help?
There are many ways in which to help and certainly organizations such as Lice
Solutions are always looking for those willing to lend a hand.
Consider starting a small group in your area. You might contact our nonprofit
organization, Lice Solutions Resource Network, Inc. at (561) 842-9969 and ask if
we are aware of any such organization close to you, or how you might be able to
help bring services to your area. Our goal as a nonprofit facility is to one day
have Lice Solutions facilities in major cities across the U.S. It is individuals
like you that will help make that possible.
In Palm Beach County, the Head Lice Task Force Team believes that,
“If every parent of a school aged child had a good lice comb and used it (for
two to five minutes on wet hair) once or twice a week, lice would not be a
problem because we as parents would find it at first onset, before it had a
chance to escalate or spread to others.” It’s a great policy; now we just
need more schools incorporating it and more parents acting on it.
Only through improved No Nit Policies, as well as parents and school
administrators working together, can we hope to bring about a positive end to
this ever-increasing problem. Remember you're in a potentially
"no-win" situation! If you rid your child of head lice, only to return
the child to an environment that is not being checked, you'll be pretty much
guaranteed that you'll be treating it again and again!!
Encourage regular screenings not only in your child's classroom, but for the
entire school as well.
Schools should consider scheduling head checks at the start of school, after the
Christmas holiday, and before summer break. For parents, the first week of
August is Head Check Awareness Week. What better time than this for parents to
add head checks to their “To-Do List?” Early detection is the real key to
minimizing transmission among our students.
To further emphasize how severe a neglected problem can get, we like to share
one such story with you. Several years ago, one of our local middle-school
nurses called about a seventh-grader that was battling a head lice problem. The
school was well aware of it, but since the child had already missed so much
school, she was allowed to continue in class. What the school wasn't aware of
was the real severity of the situation! Our technician, ill-prepared for how
severe the problem was, quickly had to call for reinforcements. The child's head
was so infested that it took two technicians four hours each and even then they
didn't get it all. Because her case of head lice had been neglected for so long,
it was difficult to work on her tender head. She suffered with multiple open
wounds that had blood and puss oozing from her scalp. Her hair was literally
matted to her scalp. They worked diligently, each taking a side of the child's
head. Working as gently as possible they attempted to remove as much as
possible. They had to soften the hair before they could even start and had to
have the child rewash her hair three more times during the treatment process.
Hundreds of live lice literally ran from this child's hair and there was little
free space for head lice to lay their eggs on. Not needing to work for their
food, the lice were literally basking in the blood. Finally the technicians
admitted they had done all they could, to do more required medical help. After a
conference call with Terri Meinking and a local pediatrician, a follow-up course
of action was determined that included antibiotics to heal the sores and kill
off any remaining lice. It also became a child-neglect issue since the situation
should never have gotten that out of hand. Mom, knowing the child had head lice,
felt that at 12 years of age she was old enough to tend to her own head. It also
became a serious school problem. Upon notification to her school nurse, they did
a head by head check of the entire seventh grade and sent 86 children home in
one day!! We dropped out of the loop before hearing how many more children they
found in the remaining grade levels. On a positive note, it was amazing how much
better her hair looked when our technicians completed their job, an appearance
change that had a positive impact on her self esteem as well.
While I know this description has probably made your stomach turn, it's
important to understand how quickly a neglected case of head lice can become a
very severe problem. The most important factor that can't be stressed enough is
that having head lice should be no more embarrassing than having chicken pox! As
parents, we're sorry for those to whom we unknowingly spread it, but it happens.
We need to stop the blame game. That means, don’t look to blame and don’t
stress over being blamed. Again, lice happens! The only fault you should accept
is for failing to act in the first place. We always tell our families, “It’s
not just about where you got head lice, but who you gave head lice to as
well!” Get over the blame game, accept that it happens, and deal with the
Should you determine that your child has head lice, treat it! Keep the child
away from playmates during this time period and notify anyone that has been in
contact with your child! Battling head lice is an annoying inconvenience for
everyone involved, especially for the individual afflicted with the problem. You
certainly hope your child avoids contact, but if your child doesn’t, then you
deal with it!! Finally, if you are among the unfortunate millions to receive a
home visit from this uninvited guest, speak up! Be a friend and tell your
friends to have their hair checked!! Notify the school, scouts, church, daycare
and anyone else your child has had contact with. Keep in mind that symptoms
usually don’t develop for 7 to 10 days after infestation. Don’t let it
escalate or continue to spread before you begin proactive measures. Understand
that telling others is a necessary process to ensure that your child does not
get it back again. Your child came in contact with head lice somewhere and will
surely spread it to others by the time you realize your child even has it.
Treating your children and then returning them to a possible lice-infested
environment would only be asking for trouble. Communicate with your friends and
help put an end to this never-ending cycle.
In an effort to better document cases and localities your help is also asked in
reporting these cases to our facility. We work with several universities,
allowing us to not only be in the forefront of newer information, but also to
provide them with the necessary data to help determine more accurate
Report Your Case
uncertain of whether you have head lice or not? Send us your samples. We will
examine them under the microscope and let you know if your concerns are head
lice related or not. While we don’t profess to know it all, we do know head
lice. Many an unnecessary treatment could have been avoided if the time had been
taken to confirm head lice before treating. When sending samples, please either
place them in a ziploc bag, or use scotch tape to affix them under the tape and
onto a white sheet of paper. Be sure to include your name, telephone number, and
location, along with the name, sex, and age of the individual from whom the
samples were removed. Please mail the envelope to Lice Solutions at 6758 North
Military Trail, Suite #110 in West Palm Beach, Florida 33407. We will generally
call back the same day we receive them.
Head lice are never pleasant. Finally there is real help that you can count on!
"Head Lice Happens! Get over it and go on!" Now with Lice Solutions
RN, Inc., getting rid of head lice has never been easier!