We are about to head into half term here in the UK, and a few days ago my youngest came home from school talking about a girl in her class having ‘woodlice’ ( she means head lice, but I don’t want to correct her, as it’s too stinking cute ).
My first reaction is to hit sound the nit alarm, running around screaming “everyone to the bathroom and grab a nit comb”. However I hold it together and calmly ask the mother of all mothering questions .. ” has your head touched her head?” and as she replies ” no Mummy ” I start to feel the heeby jeebies leave my body and remember that I am in-fact, an adult and can deal with this situation without the need for a full dramatic production.
I firstly explained that she mustn’t be mean to the little girl, or talk about her with other children, it’s not her fault and anyone can get head lice.
Then she asked for a full Google style explanation as to what lice are, how you get them and you pass them on. Well I wasn’t exactly prepared for anything more than ” oh they’re just little bugs that live in your hair like to suck your blood” ( mother of the year, Halloween edition ) explanation, so Google I did, and I thought as I was researching the real truth about our itchy little friends, I would share my findings with you all, you know in-case your little Sherlock comes asking.
Head lice – the truth
Pediculus humanus capitis – head louse
- Head lice are wingless insects, that spend their entire life living on the scalp of a human host, feeding 4 – 5 times a day on blood.
- They can’t fly or jump and are even inefficient at walking on flat surfaces.
- Head lice are completely harmless, and some believe that an infestation of them can help to build an immunity against other ‘infection carrying’ body lice.
- ANYONE can catch them.
- Girls are 2-4 times more likely to be infested.
- They are transmitted by close contact, and less commonly , by sharing hair brushes, bedding, towels, hates & clothes.
- Humans are the only known hosts of this particular parasite.
- No one knows why some people are more prone to infestations than others, although some believe it may be due to blood type & RH factor.
- Regular wet combing can keep head lice away & detect first signs of infestation.
- What people think of as ‘nits’ ( the white eggs ) are in-fact remnants of empty nit shells.
- A louse can live for approx 30 days on the host.
- A louse can only live for approx 24 hours off of the host.
So there you have it, we can all catch them, no matter what our hair type or whether our hair clean or dirty.
As a Mum I confess that i’m more than a little neurotic about one of my girls catching these little beasties so I have been using the Hedrin protect and go spray since L started school. We are now three months in & ‘so far so good’. That along with the beautiful scent ( a world away from the Derbac hell of my childhood ), makes this a winner for me.
Thanks for checking this out, hope it helps separate fact from fiction.