A recent article in the Washington Post about head lice exposes some myths about these insects, which have become increasingly more common, especially among children. Each year, there are 6 million to 12 million lice cases in U.S. children ages 3 to 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To be brief, the seven myths are as follows:
1. LICE PREFER DIRTY PEOPLE — Nope. They really don’t care about your personal hygiene.
2. PETS CAN CARRY LICE — Uh-uh. Lice are very specific about the animals they feed on. The lice that feed on humans will not feed on dogs, cats, etc.
3. LICE CAN JUMP AND FLY — No, they just crawl. In fact, jumping or flying would be dangerous since they need a human to feed on, and cannot live very long without a human host.
4. YOUR HOUSE CAN BE INFESTED BY LICE — Again, they cannot live long without a human host. Leaving a nice, warm human head for a cold part of the house where no food exists would be an unattractive option to the louse.
5. YOU NEED SPECIAL SHAMPOOS TO GET RID OF THEM — There are some shampoos that contain safe pesticides that are not toxic to humans or other mammals. These can work, but there have been reports of lice being resistant to the pesticides. Special combs can be used to remove the lice and their eggs; however, this can be very time consuming.
6. YOU CAN SUFFOCATE LICE — Claims that lice can be killed by smearing them in Vaseline or other products are dubious at best.
7. LICE ALWAYS MAKE YOU ITCH — Some people simply do not react to bites from lice. The same goes for bed bugs and other insect bites.