Debugging lice myths

I must clean every surface of my house with a strong pesticide. Fumigating will kill the lice. Lice carry disease. These are all common misconceptions about lice. Here are some more myths de-bunked:


Lice is the result of poor hygiene.

Reality: One of the oldest beliefs is that head lice prefer “dirty kids.” It’s simply not true. Head lice actually prefer clean hair to dirty hair. What they are attracted to is blood.


Lice are hard to get.

Reality: Head lice do not jump, fly or swim. They are good crawlers however, and easily move from person to person in as little as 30 seconds. This makes young kids particularly susceptible because they are in close contact in schools.


Lice-infested items must be washed in hot water.

Reality: It is not necessary to wash everything that comes in contact with the lice. 30 minutes in the dryer will dehydrate and kill lice. Vacuuming floors and furniture should do the trick, too — no need to disinfect the whole house.


No itch means no lice.

Reality: While the most common symptom is itching of the head and neck, the only sure fire way to diagnose head lice is through thorough head checks. If you know of an outbreak in your child’s school or camp, check your child daily and use preventive products.


There’s a lice epidemic.

Reality: Though there is no evidence of a current head lice epidemic, the bugs have been getting harder to eliminate and have grown increasingly resistant to prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies.


Home remedies like mayonnaise and petroleum jelly are effective treatments for lice.

Reality: While using chemical-free methods for killing lice is a better alternative, home remedies like these are not proven to do the job. All-natural products made specifically to treat lice are the best option.