True story: this weekend I found out that I had been exposed to lice. That’s right, itchy, creepy, crawly, I-don’t-want-to-cut-off-all-my-hair LICE. Thankfully, I ended up being lice free (thanks in part to the tea tree oil spray that I use as part of my regular hair car routine!) but I did learn a few things from the experience that I thought I’d share.
Things I learned:
1. There is a lice epidemic going on right now of epic proportions
2. If you have kids, know kids or work with kids, chances are you have been exposed to lice
3. It takes 3-4 weeks for nits (lice eggs) to hatch and mature into adults so you can be walking around with and spreading nits and not even know it.
4. There are companies out there, such as The Lice People, who specialize in helping you dealing with these pesky critters.
5. As with most things in life, the best defense is a good offense. Preventative sprays containing mint and/or tea tree oil can make your scalp less attractive to pesky critters such as lice.
Pets and lice:
As the good pet parent that I am, my first thought after learning of my exposure immediately turned to my pets. Can they catch lice from me? Could I have caught lice from them? And most importantly, how do I go about ridding my household of these creepy crawlers?
The good news is that lice highly species specific. That means that the species of lice that feed on human blood WILL NOT feed on the blood of dogs or cats. Conversely, dog lice (which rare) will only feed on dogs and cat lice (also rare) will only feed on cats. So if you or your family ends up dealing with a lice infestation you can rest assured that your pets are safe.
You’ve got lice – now what?
Years ago finding out that you had lice was socially and emotionally devastating. Not only did it mean a trip to the barber to get your lovely locks hacked off but it also meant the social stigma associated with these parasitic creatures.
Thankfully, nowadays, dealing with lice is much simpler thanks to companies such as The Lice People, which is where I headed as soon as I learned of my exposure. For just $20 the Lice People will go through your head with a special comb and check for nits and adult lice. If anything is found they will systematically go over your hair, strand-by-strand, and remove every nit and adult so that when you leave you are completely lice-free.
They also provide you with a handy checklist of do’s and don’ts so you can get your house lice-free with as little hassle and panic as possible.
All in all I have to say that my lice experience, though stressful, was not as bad as it could have been thanks to the friendly and knowledgeable staff at The Lice People. Not only did Lee (that’s the women who checked me out) provide me with loads of helpful tips and information, she made me feel at ease and took what could have been a disastrous situation and made it much less painful.
Common Sense Cleaning Tips from The Lice People:
1. Change sheets on any bed the infested person may have slept in during the last 24 hours. Wash and dry in HOT temperatures.
2. Throw comforters and bedspreads into the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. If that is not possible, place the bedding into garbage bags and isolate them for 24-48 hours. Lice cannot live long without access to human blood and will quickly die when cut off from their food supply.
3. Combs, brushes and hair ties used in the last 24 hours by the infested person can be cleaned by any of the following methods:
– Place in alcohol, ammonia or dish detergent and allow to soak for at least 2 hours
– Put into boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes
– Put in a Ziploc bag and place in the freezer overnight
– Place in your dishwasher on hot cycle
– Don’t use them for 24 hours
4. Run a light vacuum over the areas where the infested person visits frequently. Alternatively you can throw a sheet over the areas for 24 hours or just don’t go to those places of your house. Again, lice cannot live long without access to your blood and will quickly die when no human host is available.
5. If the infested person sleeps with any stuffed animals or toys be sure to throw them into a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes
6. Be a friend and TELL A FRIEND! (*** I was shocked to learn that many parents will hide their children’s lice infestation in order to avoid any backlash from other parents or their kid’s school. This not only perpetuates the stigma of lice being something that should be hidden but also puts your children at risk of re-infestation)
7. Make head checks part of your weekly routine
8. Use a mint or tea tree oil based shampoo or spray to keep your head lice free. Comb with a lice comb once or twice a week and watch for signs of lice
If you or someone you know has been exposed to lice please feel free to contact: