WHAT ARE HEAD LICE & NITS?
Head lice are six legged parasitic insects that infect the head. They spread by laying eggs and crawling (they cannot hop, jump or fly). Head lice are clear in color when hatched and develop a reddish brown color after feeding. These sesame seed size creatures live by biting the scalp and sucking blood. Pets do not get head lice.
Head lice live for approximately 30 days on a host (person). Off the host, they can only survive about 24 hours. The female louse may lay up to 100 nits (eggs). They are small, yellow-white oval shaped eggs that are "glued" at an angle to the side of a hair shaft. They take 7-10 days for the nits to hatch and another 7-10 days for a female to mature and begin laying her own eggs.
WHO CAN GET HEAD LICE?
Anyone can get head lice. Head lice are found on all types of people and having them is not a reflection on cleanliness. They are easily spread by people sharing combs, putting heads together, wrestling, putting an infested piece of clothing on, or the "common hook" situation where hats, coats and clothes are hung on the same hook or locker. Head lice are present any time of year, with September being the worst month.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GET RID OF THEM?
Pediculosis, or head lice infection, is the most common type childhood parasitic infection. Head lice are hard to get rid of and others can easily catch them. They are itchy and the child is constantly scratching them, leading to secondary infections.
Head lice are a big problem for children, parents, schools, teachers, nurses, health departments, pediatricians and employers. They cause a large percentage of school absenteeism as well as many missed workdays.
HEAD LICE OUTBREAKS ARE INCREASING
Twelve million cases were reported last year, although this is a fraction of the actual number of cases since most go unreported.
WHY THE INCREASE?
Head lice appear to be developing a resistance to the chemicals currently being used. Published studies from the Czech Republic and Israel and preliminary studies at Harvard University indicates that there is a new strain of "superlice" that can survive pyrethrin and permethrin, the active ingredients in the leading lice killing products.
EXISTING PRODUCTS ARE DANGEROUS!
Why would parents knowingly pour something that kills onto the head of someone they love? It's because most parents perceive lice treatments as safe shampoos rather than deadly pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals that kill living things and your child's skin has the ability to absorb what you apply topically.
Two factors that increase the potential danger of these toxic pesticides even more are longer and additional applications. Following the "more is better" philosophy, some parents leave the pesticide on the scalp longer than directed (overnight), and this allows even more of the pesticides to be absorbed into the child.
In addition, the leading products recommend a second treatment 1-2 weeks later so nits that have hatched are killed. This points out their failure to get rid of the nits with the first application, and sadly, subjects the child to a second application of the toxins.
The National Pediculosus Association (NPA) is an organization who's mission is to protect children from the misuse of potentially harmful lice and scabies pesticidal treatments. Its National Register contains numerous cases where people who have used chemical treatments to get rid of head lice and scabies have reported: seizures, behavioral changes, neuromuscular complaints, attention deficit disorders, cancer, skin disease and even death.
LINDANE - Prescription products for head lice that contain lindane are among the most dangerous.
PYRETHRIN / PERMETHRIN - Products containing pyrethrin and permethrin can also be problematic, particularly for the following types of people: pregnant, nursing, asthmatics, epileptics, people with allergies, open wounds and preexisting conditions.