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Head lice myths and treatment

Head lice myths and treatment

Original Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/head-lice-myths-treatment-1.3238904

Do you feel something crawling along your scalp? Are you sure? What’s that itchy sensation on your head?

Head lice is one of the ickiest things you’re likely to find on someone’s noggin, and one that many families will face as children head back to school. They will also likely face many myths about the blood-sucking parasites.

One that’s making the rounds is the theory put out by a couple of U.S. doctors that teenagers are spreading lice thanks to putting their heads together for selfies.

“I think they’ve forgotten their own teenage years. Teens like being together in close proximity doing other things than selfies,” said Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, adding lice don’t move that quickly.

He also threw cold water on the idea that lice would migrate from one’s head to a hat or toque, although if someone he knew had lice offered him a head cover, he’d “politely decline despite the scientific evidence.”

Head lice are a picky species, adapting to become a strictly human parasite that only settles for blood sucked from a scalp.

“They have evolved over millennia to be very specific human parasites. So they don’t infest dogs or cats or any other kind of animal — it’s only humans. And not only that, it’s only human heads. There are body lice and pubic lice, which are different subspecies,” said Bhardwaj.

There’s also not a sudden metamorphosis into some kind of super mutant being, despite some social media accounts.

That said, the parasites have been evolving thanks to the natural selection tied to our chemical warfare — we kill them off, so only those who survive the treatments reproduce.

What to do?

So if you do feel like something is skittering across your head (itching comes later if untreated), the best thing to do is look at treatments based on silicone that attack the exoskeleton of lice, or to go old fashioned and go through your hair, or your child’s hair, with a fine toothed comb.

“Do the physical labour of getting this out,” said Bhardwaj. “It’s really gross and it takes a lot of time and your kids have to be patient and you have to be patient and you have to do it more than once.”

And what about keeping your kid out of school for seven days if they have lice?

“Absolutely not, no,” said Bhardwaj, adding you should change their behaviour to reduce contact with classmates.

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