Everybody Has Lice and Nobody’s Talking About It

What one mom learned after a fateful hair appointment…

It all started as a normal visit to a kids’ haircut salon. I’d landed simultaneous appointments for my two children so I could savor my cappuccino in peace. But halfway through the appointment, my daughter’s stylist stopped cutting and said, “Can you come over here?” 

She pointed to something that looked like a grain of brown rice on my daughter’s scalp. 

“That,” she said with an ominous tone, “is lice.” 

A Facebook post from two weeks prior flashed through my mind: There’d been a lice outbreak at school right before summer break. 

“We have to end the haircut now,” the stylist said as she squished the louse in a tissue before tying up my daughter’s wet hair in a ponytail. 

My daughter started to panic, itching her head compulsively. I took a breath.

“What, what do we do?” I stammered. 

The stylist pointed toward some lice kits on a shelf. For more money, she said, we could enlist a lice treatment service. I was mortified. We quickly paid and hustled out the door. 

A first time for everything

Believe it or not, this was the first time in nine years of motherhood that I had encountered lice.

Despite occasional lice warnings over the years in preschool and elementary classes, we’d managed to avoid these bugs completely. That gave me a false confidence that we were doing something effective (nope) and that we didn’t have conditions in which lice could prosper (nope again). 

While my daughter received her hair treatment — a 40-minute precision comb-through of hair soaked in a proprietary oil mixture while she watched a movie on my laptop — the lice technician told me what items needed to go in the wash vs. quarantine. I flung myself around the house, bagging stuffed animals, spreading sheets over couches and running the washing machine nonstop.

And wouldn’t you know it? I ended up having lice, too. 

Sharing the news

Since I document everything, I took pictures of my daughter and myself during our treatments. Her sad, sullen face says it all. Setting aside my own insecurities in an effort to embrace the moment, I shared the photos on Facebook as a way to show my kids that we needn’t be ashamed. 

What I didn’t expect were so many admissions of lice infestations from fellow parent friends — 15 to be exact! Good friends, close friends, had been through this same thing — some recently and others multiple times — and none had said anything.

When I mentioned this to our lice technician at the seven-day follow-up appointment, she wasn’t surprised. Lice, she explained, are a lot more common than you might think (the CDC estimates 6 to 12 MILLION “infestations” occur annually among U.S. kids 3 to 11 years old).

More importantly I realize lice aren’t an indicator of uncleanliness. Rather, they’re a natural part of life because kids share things even when you tell them not to, like hats, combs, clothing and personal space. 

Also good to know: Lice don’t carry diseases like ticks or mosquitos do and they can’t survive for more than 48 hours without a host. 

This experience cleared away some old assumptions and changed my perspective for the better. Now we know: Lice happens to a lot of people — all the time — and getting them isn't scandal-worthy.

We’re even heading back to the same kids’ haircut salon next week with heads held high — but no lice on them this time. 

10 Reasons to Chill About Lice (Seriously)

A case of head lice may seem like the worst hair day ever, but don't let it put you over the edge. Here's why you can (sort of) relax. 

1. Lice don’t carry disease.

Sure, scratching from lice could technically cause sores. But in the vast majority of cases here in the U.S., these bugs are not a health hazard. What they do spread is fear and disdain for those kids unlucky enough to get them. “Children may refuse to sit near others who have nits in their hair. Parents may blame other parents and not allow kids to play together. It’s pretty unfair considering how little danger lice pose. Try not to worry about whether others have lice: It’s more important to be nice. 

2. They also don’t spread that easily.

Does just thinking about soccer huddles or group selfies give you the creeps? Relax. It almost always takes sustained contact (think: a long car ride with kids squeezed in the back or a full episode of Sofia the First on the couch) for a louse to move from one kid’s head to another’s, says Dr. Gordon. Lice don’t jump like fleas or fly like mosquitoes—they crawl and can barely move off a human head. To keep children from catching them, send kids with long hair to school and sleepovers with their hair in a braid or a bun, says Katie Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Shepherd Institute for Lice Solutions, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

3. Without a human host, they’re toast.

Lice only thrive on human heads and hair—not on pets, furniture, toys, or dress-up costumes. They need a blood meal at least every 24 hours, or they’ll quickly dehydrate and die. If a louse should happen to go rogue and land on, say, a pillow, it would need luck and acrobatic prowess to attach to a new person’s head. Although it’s theoretically possible for this to happen when kids share items like hats and headphones, lice are not generally spread this way,” says Shepherd. (Even so, tell your kids not to swap caps and headbands.)

4. Nits aren’t contagious.

Mama lice superglue their teensy eggs to hair strands right next to the scalp, which makes them nearly impossible to dislodge, says Shepherd.

5. Lice don’t like adults’ hair as much as kids’.

Lice claws hook most easily onto thin, straight hair shafts, and hair gains girth with age. This, combined with knowing what “personal space” is, may be why parents often escape them, says Albert Yan, M.D, a pediatric dermatologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

6. Those eggs are pretty easy to see. 

You just have to learn what they look like. The nits don’t brush away like dandruff or slide up a strand the way scalp secretions and globs of hair product do. “If you see a fleck on a hair and it doesn’t slide easily, you’ve found a nit,” says Dr. Gordon. Opaque white flecks stuck firmly to the hair but more than a centimeter from the scalp are usually empty egg cases from which the nits have hatched. “These can remain after a child has been treated and aren’t a threat,” says Dr. Yan. Still, remove them while you’re combing, especially if your school has a no-nits policy. (In warm climates, unhatched nits can be found farther from the scalp too.)

7. Your kid may not have to miss school.

Thanks to recommendations from the AAP, schools are slowly but steadily backing away from strict “no nit” policies and allowing healthy kids to attend as long as they don’t have live lice on their head. If the school nurse finds lice on your child during the day, the AAP suggests that he stay in class until dismissal, get treated at home that night, and come back to school the next morning.

8. Many kids don’t get itchy.

Itching is an allergic response to louse saliva that only about half of people have, which means your child may not be bothered at all. Just keep an eye out for other symptoms—red bumps on the neck, scalp, and ears; and relentless, immovable “dandruff” that could actually be nits. 

9. Lice are much less of a nightmare than bedbugs. 

Bedbugs stay on humans just long enough to feed, then crawl into their surroundings. (Ick!) Lice, on the other hand, pretty much stay put on their human host and leave your belongings unscathed. If someone in your home has lice, there’s no need to tear your house apart or fumigate, simply wash and tumble dry (on a high temperature setting) any bedding or clothes that have come in contact with your child’s head in the past 48 hours, and soak brushes, combs, and hair ornaments in hot water (at least 130°F) for ten minutes. Place nonwashable items (down pillows, precious stuffed animals) in tightly sealed plastic trash bags for two weeks to starve outliers, or toss them into the dryer on the highest setting for half an hour.

10. Hey, at least there’s no pee in his hair.

Lice don’t go number one. Instead, they cast off fluid via their windpipe. If your kid wakes up with a wet head, it’s just sweat. Phew!








Black Kids Get Head Lice Too

“I grew up believing that African Americans (Black people) didn’t get lice.”

For as long as I can remember, I was told that I could not get lice because Black people don’t get lice. I had every reason to believe it since I knew no one that ever had it.

I would have probably died with that belief had I not experienced an incident where African American children had been infected with lice. Yes, I was the Director of Children’s Ministry at a multicultural Church, and one day a few kids from one of our families came to church with lice.

Initially, I was concerned, but since there were only a few children that I believed could even get lice because the majority of the kids were Black, therefore I didn’t freak out over it. I notified all the parents, thoroughly cleaned the children’s area, and moved on. A few days later, I was talking to a parent and she told me that her kids were infected with lice and it was so hard getting rid of them. I could not believe it….I was in total shock. I asked, “are you serious, I didn’t think Black people got lice.” She agreed. She had been taught that same superstition but her children were infected and she had to treat them.

I began researching lice and if Black people could get it and to my surprise, the answer was YES. I found that there had been several studies done to figure out why Black people didn’t get lice as often as white people. The most common reason was the treatment of the hair. Most Black boys get their hair cut, which helps with remedying the lice problem, and Black girls tend to get their hair straightened and use a good amount of oil. Both immediately kills lice.

So, when I received a notification from my son’s school about lice, I was glad I had researched lice and knew that I needed to ensure that he didn’t have it…because he could.

So, I followed the “How to Check for Head Lice” checklist

1) I checked Chance’s hair in sections. That was hard because it’s so short.

2) I held a piece of paper near the section.

3) I pulled the nit comb through his hair. Luckily for me, my son Chance did not have lice.

I realize that lice aren’t the type of guest you want in your home, we certainly didn’t expect them at church…and everyone is welcomed there. But seriously, not wanting them will not make them go away once you get them. And if you are Black and were raised as I was thinking that Black people can not get lice, please know you can.

You may have lice and not even know it

Could you have an infestation of head lice and not even know it?

The truth is that within the first weeks of an initial infestation the case often goes on without any evident symptoms. Even the itching commonly associated with head lice may not come on for several weeks.

You may have a co-worker who has recently discovered that they are infested, and so you suspect that you could have lice without even knowing it, too. It is common for no symptoms to occur for up to six weeks of infestation, so you may have lice and not yet know it. Also, up to half of the people who get head lice never have any itching.

Lice experts recommend doing a head check regularly, especially when you have been in contact with people who have identified lice in their hair.

Where lice are most likely to be hiding in your hair

Lice can be hard to spot, so knowing the first places to look can help. Lice favor the areas around ears and the nape of the neck, so check there first.

The best method for checking for Lice

Using a fine-toothed lice comb is the expert-recommended way to check for lice. The combing method is much more efficient at spotting lice than a visual screening on its own.

It can be difficult for the untrained eye to see the difference between dandruff, dirt, dry skin and lice. You may need the services of a health care expert who is knowledgeable about the differences. They recognize lice and their eggs so you can have an official diagnosis rather than only the best guess.

You can be sure you’ve spotted lice when you see them moving around on the lice comb. You may need a magnifying glass to detect them, and using a light source like a flashlight can help because lice flee from light.

Choosing the best treatment for confirmed infestations

When you’ve confirmed that you have lice, the first tip is to take it in stride. Lice infestations happen to good parents and children, too. An outbreak does not mean you are a poor parent or that your home is unclean. And, there are new treatments that can solve your lice problem quickly and efficiently.

The most professional and effective treatment available for lice

Over-the-counter treatments are woefully ineffective as lice have become resistant to the medicines used in them. To treat and eliminate head lice, you’ll need professional help for total eradication of the infestation.

An excellent alternative is to use the services of Larger Than Lice, with natural lice treatments and caring technicians, you can rest assured that your child is in good hands. We even offer a 31-day guarantee after your initial treatment for your peace of mind. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Keep kids in the game and Lice Free

As a parent, seeing your children out on the sports field supporting their team gives you a feeling of pride. Their effort on the field in support of their team builds their character. But, with the bumps and bruises that can also happen out on the field, you may question whether sports are doing good for your kids. Everything is relative, but here are some of the most significant benefits kids gain from sports:

Playing sports gets kids active

These days, getting kids away from their phones and video games isn’t always an easy prospect. Their enthusiasm for electronic devices and video games isn’t equaled when compared to doing chores or their homework.

But, sports being the fun, energizing activities that they are, kids tend to respond well to the idea of playing a game with their peers. Building outlets outside of video games is healthy for them, and it can encourage them to seek positive things in every aspect of their lives.

Sports instill good qualities in kids

Playing sports builds character in your kids. They learn about teamwork, dedication, and pursuing goals. The natural leaders emerge and develop their skills, and kids learn how to work together to achieve common goals. The fun of playing sports helps kids become more outgoing and confident as they work together alongside their peers.

Sports are a good outlet for stress for kids

Let’s face it: the world is a stressful place. And, this is true for kids, too. We all need an outlet to get out the angst of the average day. On the field, working out the stressors of life can help them be at ease.

Kids who play sports together build strong, healthy relationships

When kids work together at a common goal, they build bonds with their teammates that can last through their whole lifetime. Few other situations have the same innate team-building and relationship-building qualities. Kids who play together get to know one another and the cooperation in sports activities can build the same spirit in everything they do with their sports friends.

Playing sports gets kids outdoors

Remember the days when every neighborhood had its gang of kids running around, riding their bicycles, playing basketball, tag, or follow the leader? For most blocks, those days are long gone, but one thing that helps sports are great for kids, but watch out for Lice!

Encouraging your kids to get involved with sports is a great thing. And, so is following these tips to help them avoid getting head lice:

  • Tell kids to avoid sharing equipment like hats, towels, or jackets.

  • Ensure your kid has their own locker, not one shared with another kid.

  • Encourage your kids not to throw their belongings in a pile with everyone else’s. Putting them in their own space prevents lice.

  • Tell your kids to avoid direct head-to-head contact with other kids.

  • Stay vigilant and pay attention to your kid’s hair. Watch for signs and symptoms of head lice so you can catch them early to bring back that old spirit is playing sports.

When kids play sports in school, they’re more likely to play when they’re at home, too. Kids playing a game outside can draw other kids out of the house to play, and the positive impact on your neighborhood is palpable.



What do I do if I have nits, but no lice?

I see nits, but no lice?!

Well, in order to have nits, you had to have had an adult female lay them, as they can’t transfer by any other method.  So you had a bug at one point, but sometimes, the mother lays some eggs and then travels to another head, or finds this head incompatible to her system and the mother passes after laying three eggs.  Keep in mind, nits represent the next generation of lice and by doing a visual inspection there is no way of knowing that there are only nits with no live lice.

The bugs are designed by nature to be hard to see, so it is not typical to just see bugs on a head.  The only way to know that there are nits with no lice present at the time is by actually treating the head!  Then, during your comb-out, you would find dead bugs or discover only the eggs.  You can do a thorough combing head check on wet hair and still not find any lice because they will run from you. So if we do a combing head check on someone and we find nits we know that there must have been an adult female louse there.

To answer this question properly you would have to treat somebody to find out which stages of lice are on their heads – is it just eggs or various stages of bugs, or are there are only nits with no lice. It is possible to have Nits and no lice in the very early stages of an infestation. It is also possible to have leftover nits from a prior infestation.  Those would be old and unviable but with no real way to tell the difference to new lice.  In that case, hiring a professional might be a good investment for your peace of mind.

The Dangers of OTC Lice Treatments

With the summer behind us and school in full swing, you’re probably on the lookout for common problems like the flu and lice breakouts. Lice outbreaks in the New York area are more common than you might expect, and many parents are unsure of how they should proceed when they suspect that their child is carrying lice. Instead of coming to a professional lice treatment center, many parents choose to purchase over-the-counter lice shampoo in an attempt to save money and treat the problem as quickly as possible. While we understand the motivation here, the vast majority of parents are unaware that over-the-counter lice treatments often contain toxic chemicals that can harm their children.

In today’s post, we’ll explain what you need to know about OTC lice treatments before explaining why our approach to lice removal is safer and actually more effective. 

Skeptical readers may be wondering why certain lice treatment products are alleged to be dangerous. After all, many health-oriented businesses use fear and misleading arguments about chemicals in order to promote their products as the solution. It’s good to have a skeptical mind when you’re trying to choose the best lice treatment for your child, but it’s also important to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

In order to understand why many over-the-counter lice treatments are so harmful, it’s important to remember that lice are insects. Just as some of the chemicals used to keep our crops free of pests have turned out to be harmful, the chemicals (insecticides) commonly used in lice shampoos are being closely examined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As we’ll explain below, some of the chemicals commonly used to treat lice have been banned in certain industries and in certain countries around the world, though they have not yet been banned in lice treatment products here in the United States.

Two commonly used lice treatment chemicals include:


Lindane


Although lindane has been categorized as a highly toxic pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is still used in lice treatment shampoos. Lindane has been proven to cause cancer and harm the nervous, neurological, and reproductive systems, which is why several countries around the world have banned it from being used in any over-the-counter products. Some of the most serious problems caused by lindane include:

  • Severe rashes

  • Dizziness

  • Sleepiness

  • Vomiting and nausea

  • Seizures

  • Uncontrollable shaking

  • Stinging and burning sensations

The FDA has taken notice of these effects and recommended that lindane always be used with caution, especially in individuals who weigh less than 110 pounds. Given that the overwhelming majority of lice cases occur in young children who weigh significantly less than 110 pounds, it seems unlikely that lindane will continue to be used in lice shampoos.

While the effects of lindane on the human body are certainly scary, the effects on the broader environment are almost just as troubling. Lindane is also categorized as a bioaccumulative pollutant, which means that it builds up and stays in the environment for a long period of time. It doesn’t take much to pollute the local environment — it’s been estimated that one single use of lindane will pollute roughly 6 million gallons of water.

Permethrin

Permethrin has been used in lice treatment products for decades. While it was once incredibly effective at eliminating both fully grown lice and eggs, its prevalence in the United States has actually led to lice developing a resistance to the chemical. Recent studies have shown that permethrin is between 20 and 30 percent effective, which should be sufficient to give any parent pause before spending money on it. Moreover, the health risks of permethrin are troubling, to say the least:

  • Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and other respiratory problems

  • Allergic reactions

  • Runny nose and congestion

  • Scalp irritation and a burning sensation

  • Convulsions and other nervous system problems

Choose Natural Lice Treatment

At Larger Than Lice, we know that parents dealing with a lice infestation are looking for fast, affordable solutions. While we know it can be tempting to rush out and purchase over-the-counter lice shampoo, we hope that today’s post will prompt you to think otherwise.

Instead of taking on your child’s lice removal on your own, book an appointment with us for a lice screening. With natural lice treatments and caring technicians, you can rest assured that your child is in good hands. We even offer a 31 day guarantee after your initial treatment for your peace of mind. We look forward to speaking with you soon!


Five Things You Should Never Do If You Have Lice

Most people shudder at the thought of having lice, and it’s easy to understand why. While we hope that you never have to deal with lice, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do if you end up with them. In today’s post, we’ll cover five things you should never do if you have lead lice.

If you have lice…

  • Don’t Panic

    Most people shudder at the thought of having lice, and it’s easy to understand why. While we hope that you never have to deal with lice, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do if you end up with them. In today’s post, we’ll cover five things you should never do if you have lead lice.

  • Don’t Use Over-The-Counter Treatments

    Over-the-counter lice removal products are some of the most harmful and toxic products available on today’s market. Many of the chemicals have been linked to serious problems such as cancer, uncontrollable shaking, wheezing, seizures, and more. At Larger Than Lice, we use safe and effective natural lice treatments that eliminate lice without putting your health and well-being at risk. 

  • Don’t Throw Away Hats and Clothing

    Many of our clients tell us that they threw away everything they wore when they had lice, and while we understand the sentiment, it’s completely unnecessary to throw away your hats and clothing after a lice infestation. Lice cannot live for more than 48 hours without a human host, but their eggs can remain viable for up to seven days. Instead of throwing out your clothing, gather everything that could be contaminated and place it into a double-lined trash bag. Wait seven days before removing your clothing, and then immediately wash everything with hot water and soap.

  • Don’t Tear Your Home Apart 

    As we noted above, it’s completely unnecessary to tear your home apart in the days following a lice infestation. You should vacuum carpeted areas and furniture thoroughly, mop hard surfaces with soap and water, and take your pets to the vet for a checkup. You should know that it’s unlikely that lice will make their way back into your hair if they have fallen into the carpet, so you don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time scrubbing every inch of your home.

  • Don’t Wait

    Seeking out professional lice treatment as soon as possible is the best way to get back to normalcy as soon as you suspect that you have lice. Do-it-yourself lice removal kits are difficult for the average person to use, and a prolonged battle with lice is the last thing you want to deal with. Here at Larger Than Lice, we are committed to helping you get back to lice-free living as soon as possible!