- They can’t jump or fly: People get head lice from direct hair-to-hair contact with another person. Head lice cannot fly or jump from head to head. They can only crawl.
- They don’t always itch: So you will need to look closely to find them.
- It takes vigilance for total eradication: Some parents advise doing the conditioner and combing treatment (every second day until you have found no live lice for 10 days.
A video has found its way on to social media that shows possibly the worst head lice infestation ever recorded.
It’s from Mexico but, in all its postings, has been watched thousands upon thousands of times. It features the scalp of a young girl who has turned up at a special head lice treatment salon to be de-loused.
Her hair is literally moving from what must be millions of bugs and eggs living in a blissful blood-sucking lice community on her head.
For any parent who has had to deal with family infestations, this video will make you either shudder or shrug. It can get to the stage where head lice spotting and combing is built into the weekly schedule (I still have placed lice combs around the house and a repetitive strain injury on my wrist from years of combing thick, curly, long hair).
Here it is in all its creepy, crawly horror.
If this video has made you think it’s time to have a look at your own offspring’s scalps (and maybe your own), here’s a reminder on how to treat lice from the experts – the scientists at James Cook University who have been studying these hardy head vermin for a while now.
The most effective treatment recommended by the university and Westmead Hospital is the “conditioner and comb” treatment, which involves covering the hair and scalp in conditioner, which apparently stuns the critters, and then combing it through, drowning all lice and eggs collected on the comb in hot water, or smearing them on a tissue.
There are no products that will kill all lice and eggs – so by all means buy these and use them but remember it’s not a one-off treatment.
A complete eradication consists of a bare minimum of two treatments, a week or so apart. The first treatment kills the climbers, and the second kills the juvenile lice hatched from the eggs over the intervening week.
But are they such a health hazard?
Head lice are not going to make your kids sick or drain them of blood – although it may make them distracted by itching, keep them awake or cause a rash so it’s good to keep the population under control even if you do find that it’s almost impossible to completely eradicate them.
James Cook University research have said that it would take a monumental head and body infestation – probably more than a young child’s scalp could sustain – to cause associated anaemia.
Its research found the amount of blood drunk by a head louse in a single feeding session is very small – from 0.0000387ml to 0.0001579ml.
“However, a heavily infected person [with thousands of lice] with a marginal iron status may have their condition made worse by head lice,” a university fact sheet claims.
**Other lice facts every parent needs to know++
Back to that video - it's already gone viral with the clip being watched nearly 40,000 times on video platform Liveleak, which is just one of the places it's been posted.