When it comes to headlice the only consensus is that they can be very irritating and at times a cause of unease and embarrassment. Otherwise a great deal of conjecture and inaccuracies surround the insects and what - if anything - can eliminate them.
Indeed, myths abound and lead many to question even basic facts, confusion and a difficulty in identifying suitable treatments.
In a bid to differentiate general myths from the true facts of head lice we have addressed some common misconceptions. Separating one from the other may just help efforts to quell an unwelcome outbreak.
BOYS VS. GIRLS
The assumption that women are more prone to contracting headlice than men is simply untrue. It is generally accepted the former will model longer hair of course but there is no data to suggest sex impacts the lay of the louse. These wingless insects rely on head-to-head contact to move between people and a greater volume of hair will increase the chances of that happening. But length is dependent on the individual and their chosen style, not their gender.
Even then short hair will not necessarily make you less likely to catch them. Lice are known to live on follicles as short as ¼ inch from the scalp, meaning only a grade 0 guarantees complete immunity.
On a similar note cleanliness, or rather a lack of it, makes no difference to whether you contract lice or not. These creatures feed on blood whether or not surrounding mane is clean.
Intriguingly this myth was turned on its head during the 1970s when literature was distributed purporting that lice preferred clean hair. Again, this was and is untrue. The purpose – according to President of the International Society of Phthirapterists Ian Burgess, was to educate the middle class that they too could be afflicted.
Animals meanwhile are susceptible to fleas not lice. Rest assured, there is no danger of them transferring lice to you or vice-versa. Louse survive on human blood which is of an altogether different composition to the animal equivalent.
As terrifying as lice can be they cannot fly. Surprised? Understandable given this myth has endured. As highlighted above, these critters require head-to-head contact in order to spread their wings – though not literally. As jumping between scalps is impossible and they instead crawl between strands of hair, locking claws into a shaft and climbing it. Rapidly.
OLD WIVES TALES
As with any condition there are make believe remedies that some continue to swear by. Ignore any advice which encourages the application of beer, butter, dog shampoo, garlic, mayonnaise, peanut butter, vinegar, washing-up liquid and the like.
If any of the aforementioned were truly beneficial there would be no need for treatments such as Vamousse Headlice Treatment. It is these which are clinically proven to make a real difference, not an old wives tale.
An itchy scalp is deemed the clearest sign someone is suffering from lice. This is though a side effect noticeable in only a handful of cases. Sure enough around 14-19 percent of infected children complain of a constant need to scratch, this a result of lice feeding. A good many more however have no inclination to involve their finger nails.
Headlice can crawl onto personal belongings such as pillows or hair brushes but any vacation will be short-lived. This is because louse can only live off a human head for up to 48 hours. Indeed, when deprived of blood from the scalp they soon die with research suggesting they feed every five hours.
Nits is actually a term used to describe eggs, not lice themselves. A female louse will typically lay 100 of them in her lifetime and each takes approximately ten days to hatch. Obviously, this provides a small window in which a potential outbreak can be stopped in its tracks.
Headlice have been the scourge of humans since the beginning of time. Incredibly traces of them were found in the remains of Egyptian Mummies. Pre-dating even that example was one identified on a Brazilian believed to have died some 10,000 years ago. This is anything but a new problem.
As touched upon earlier in this post lice transfer between people when head-to-head contact ensues. What it may surprise you to learn is the speed at which the transition takes place. Remarkably, lice travel at a rate of knots – climbing 23cm in a minute. Studies indicate they take just 30 seconds to flit between one human head to another.
Hopefully clarification on a few of the above points will provide a better understanding on lice and how they impact our lives. Knowing your enemy is after all half the battle.
If you or a member of your family are suffering with an outbreak of head lice, Vamousse head lice treatment is clinically proven to kill up to 100% of lice and eggs within 15 minutes, due in part to main ingredients geraniol, isopropyl alcohol and isopropyl myristate.
The protective shampoo meanwhile helps stamp out undetected infestation before it can take hold, when used regularly as part of a daily bath time routine.
Head Lice do not discriminate, and the chances are you, or someone you know, will be hit by a wave of the critter kind at some point. Come such time it is important to know exactly what you are dealing with and how such parasites can impact our day to day lives.
So, what are the common side effects of louse?
The most well-known symptom of any outbreak is of course itching. The urge to scratch at the scalp manifests itself once these unwelcomed guests feast on your blood. A frankly disgusting image, lice bite into your skin to feed themselves. Insertions made from their needle shaped mouths and their saliva can both irritate and inflame, sparking that horrible itching sensation most of us have experienced at one time or another.
A reaction to saliva is not uncommon and can be the root cause of the itching sensation.
Those not compelled to do so will still sense movement in their hair and a tickly feeling by extension. Put bluntly, you will be left in no doubt that you have company.
To dismiss itching as harmless is to underestimate its perils. Indeed, severe cases of scratching can lead to a secondary skin infection, which is not at all pretty (and not linked directly with the head lice infestation, rather the itching). This particular diagnosis is the result of open sores, which themselves are a result of cutting the skin.
Red bumps may well develop with liquid oozing from them. A crusty layer is often left in their wake as infection takes hold. Sores and scabs meanwhile are another visual reminder as to lice running riot.
On the subject of severe infection spare a thought for those battling in World War One. According to reports a staggering 97% of soldiers suffered from an extreme case of head lice which spawned a devastating condition christened Trench Fever. The fallout of that was excruciating headaches and pain throughout the lower half of the body. Never let it be said lice are nothing to worry about!
An incessant need to itch throughout the day is unlikely to subside come the evening. Lice care not for sleeping patterns and are actually believed to be nocturnal creatures. They can therefore wreak havoc when you attempt to earn some shut eye.
Difficulty sleeping is a dispiriting symptom of contracting head lice and can lead onto to all manner of other issues. Trouble concentrating at school or indeed work is a direct and damaging correlation.
Finally, lice are not exactly inconspicuous, hence the ability for others to personally pick them from your hair. Their sheer visibility however creates a problem for anyone taking pride in their appearance. And it is not just the insects themselves that bring embarrassment. Far more obvious are nits (eggs) which see white shells dotted across the head. The latter can be mistaken for dandruff but that is hardly a cheery alternative. In negatively effecting appearance, lice can inspire paranoia and upset. It is important to remember not all symptoms are visual ones.
Vamousse Headlice Treatment is clinically proven to remove up to 100% of lice and eggs within 15 minutes of scientific tests. Take a look here to find out where to buy Vamousse products online and in stores.
Preventing the spread of head lice is a real challenge and one that stumps parents everywhere. Sudden contractions are not, as many believe, the result of uncleanliness or bad hygiene. Instead, pot luck plays its part and simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can leave you exposed.Though preventing infestation is tough, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of lice spreading. They include the following:
Avoiding head-to-head contact
Head lice are small insects sized no greater than 3mm long. They tend to gather around a person’s ears or the back of their neck and rely on human blood to survive. Their presence can prove irritating, with itching the most common side effect. An untreated head lice infestation meanwhile can lead to secondary infection, which can of course be serious. For more on head lice symptoms, take a look here.
The spread of head lice is the result of them transferring between heads of hair and hatching eggs (nits), thus multiplying in number. It is therefore, of paramount importance to avoid head-to-head contact, particularly in the classroom.
Granted, instructing children to keep their distance is one thing, expecting them to heed the advice is another altogether. Nevertheless, emphasising the importance of personal space may just reduce the chances of a full-blown outbreak.
Don’t share items
Sharing is caring but certain items should remain off limits to stop lice in their tracks, namely those that come into contact with hair.
Combs, towels, hats, scarves, coats and even earphones fall into the bracket of belongings likely to facilitate the transfer of nits. Where possible seek to avoid communal settings where said items are stored. Cloak rooms for instance see clothing hung side-by-side, presenting a prime opportunity for head lice to move between hoods. So, if at all possible, isolate your possessions from others.
Similar care should be taken when coming into contact with the likes of cinema seating. It pays to drape a temporary cover over the top of such chairs, wherein lice could be lurking. Vigilance is key.
It is a sad reality that head lice plagues children more than adults with the school classroom a cesspit of sorts. Naturally, any child unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire may bring some unwelcome friends home and by extension expose parents and siblings to the problem, albeit unwillingly.
Mums and dads should check children’s clothing whenever they return home from the school day and be on the lookout for lice as well as their yellow, brown or white shells.
Contrary to popular belief however it does not pay to throw the likes of clothing, bedding and stuffed animals with which your child has come into contact into a washing machine, no matter the temperature. Both NICE and the NHS* have also dismissed claims those same items need adding into a dryer for 20 minutes on a high heat cycle thereafter. Neither procedure will help prevent lice, sadly.
Soaking brushes or combs handled by those suffering with lice though is sound practice. Do so in hot, soapy water for around ten minutes to completely disinfect.
There are also protective products on the market such as Vamousse’s protective shampoo. This product breaks the cycle of head lice, helping protect against infestation. Indeed Vamousse Shampoo kills lice and can also kill eggs. Nymph lice that hatch from the surviving eggs are killed before they reach maturity and therefore before they can lay eggs. This mechanism helps prevent new generations of lice from maturing and therefore helps stop lice population from growing.
Those with shorter hair have a definite advantage when it comes to lice spreading; the longer your mane the more likely the lice are to spread to other hosts.
Teens and pre-teens modelling longer locks should be encouraged to wear a ponytail or braid during school hours, this to prevent stray hairs. Keeping hair together lessens the chance of lice flitting between different scalps and laying eggs.
Vamousse head lice treatment is clinically proven to kill up to 100% of lice and eggs within 15 minutes, due in part to main ingredients geraniol, isopropyl alcohol and isopropyl myristate. The protective shampoo meanwhile helps stamp out undetected infestation before it can take hold, when used regularly as part of a daily bath time routine.
Preventing head lice outright is tough but not impossible. Follow the above guidelines and you stand a far better chance.
*Both the NICE and the NHS are independent and do not endorse any specific product.
So what symptoms should you be looking for?
The main symptom of headlice is the itchy sensation which many believe to be caused by the head lice moving around on the person’s head. However, in actual fact it is caused by a reaction to the lice’s saliva when they bite. This sounds slightly worse than it is, but it can cause great irritation to the host.
2.A Red Rash, or Little Red Bumps
Often, you will find red bumps or a rash on the back of the neck and across the ears. This is a slightly less common symptom, however it usually occurs in someone who has had head lice for a longer period of time. The red bumps/rash is caused by a reaction to their droppings. Again, another particularly unpleasant symptom which can be difficult to spot.
3. Trouble Sleeping
Typically, this symptom goes hand in hand with itchiness. Lice are actually more active at night meaning you may find you have trouble falling asleep. This in turn can cause irritability and tiredness from tossing and turning at night.
Lice eggs can often look very similar to dandruff. They typically are oval in shape and range from white, yellow and brown in colour. They can be detected by the naked eye however you often need to get close to see them.
5.A Red Scalp
A red scalp is a symptom that is slightly easier to spot and is caused by the lice feeding off the blood from your scalp while scratching can also add fuel to the fire. It is important to try and keep scratching to a minimum as it can cause the skin to break and allow infection to set in.
Can They Be Prevented?
There is no sure way to fully prevent head lice or nits, but there are ways to avoid catching them. It is important to avoid close contact with someone who is currently affected, as lice can walk from one person’s head to another. If you or your child has long hair, keep the hair neatly tied up to avoid contact and avoid sharing personal items such as pillows, hats, helmets, brushes and combs.
However, if you or your children do catch head lice, Vamousse’s range of head lice treatments are a suitable way to treat the problem from home. Vamousse has you covered with a treatment clinically proven to kill up to 100% of lice and eggs within 15 minutes. When used regularly as part of a daily bath time routine, the Vamousse protective shampoo then helps stamp out undetected infestations before they take hold.
If you need help, if you need information, if you need a plan – we’ve got you covered.
1. KNOW YOUR ENEMY
A bit of knowledge goes a long way, and we’ve done most of the scouting to assist you in getting your household back into fighting shape as soon as possible.
The first thing to do is confirm the presence of the enemy. Lice and their eggs (nits) can be detected visually but the task is made easier by using a comb to part the hair and inspect the scalp and individual strands. They also congregate around the backs of the ears and neck.
Lice grow up to 3 mm in length and range from a yellow-white to grey-brown in colour. They are much easier to spot in fairer hair but blend in with darker hair.
The eggs are similar in colour, but egg shells left over from hatched nymphs (young lice) are white in colour and can aid in the detection of an infestation in darker hair. Although the presence of an egg is not outright confirmation of an infestation without seeing a live louse, it certainly encourages a more thorough inspection of those potentially affected.
Other signs of infestation include a rash and itching on head/scalp.
Once an infestation is detected you have some options but must act quickly to prevent further spread.
2. PLAN YOUR ATTACK
Establish who needs to be treated.
Everyone in the household is potentially and likely to be affected. While you can check each person individually to establish whether they need treating or not, the potential for missing even a single louse or egg means it’s strongly recommended to treat everyone as a precaution.
Thankfully you do not have to worry about your pets. Lice are species specific and cannot be transferred between animals and humans. Pets have their own types of lice to contend with.
Once you know the number of people involved, you’ll have a better understanding of the size of the task and resources needed.
Synchronise Your Watches.
Everyone needs to be treated at the same time, and this is non-negotiable.
Treating members of the household at different times can lead to the re-infestation of treated individuals as they come into contact with those awaiting treatment.
Ideally you’ll have everyone in the same room being treated together to achieve the maximum result, and save you wasting time, money and effort. Agree a time and stick to it.
Head lice can survive for several days out of hair which implies a potential for re-infection, but official guidance states the cleaning and/or fumigating of items that have come into contact with lice is not necessary.
3. CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
There are several methods of treating head lice to choose from.
Using a special fine-toothed detection comb, you methodically brush through each and every section of hair removing any accumulated lice and eggs after each pass.
Working on wet hair, combing takes up to 30 mins to thoroughly examine the entire head of hair, and minimise any lice or eggs slipping past your inspection.
You should wash the hair and use conditioner if combing wet hair, as this will help in the detangling and brushing of hair before fine combing.
Combing is quite a labour-intensive method as it needs to be done every few days for at least 2 weeks, and even this may not completely eradicate all trace of infestation. Because combing doesn’t remove all the eggs, after the first comb through to remove adult lice you must then continually catch the nymphs as they hatch before they begin laying eggs.
If a child attends a school that has a ‘stay at home’ policy this can result in them missing a lot of school which is not ideal.
Treatments that use pesticides or poisons to kill infestations are classed as chemical treatments.
Newer methods of dealing with head lice have more recently been developed, which don’t use poisons or pesticides.
Different treatments have varying application methods. Some work to kill the infestation outright in a single treatment, while others require follow up applications set time periods after the first.
Physical treatments involve non-pesticide based methods that work to kill lice and eggs through other means - typically through drowning or dehydrating them in a liquid.
A benefit of some treatments is that as they are ideally a one-time event and save a significant amount of time and effort when compared with combing alone. The treatment can simply be applied and left in for the required amount of time before combing out and washing.
Vamousse Headlice Treatment is a fast working and effective single use form of treatment and is scientifically proven to kill up to 100% of lice and eggs in only 15 minutes. Other treatments can take varying times to achieve results.
4. PREPARE YOUR SUBJECTS AND EXECUTE THE PLAN
Gather together everyone that needs treating, as it is crucial they all be treated at the same time. Otherwise one individual may re-infect the group during gap between their treatments.
Wash and condition their hair if using the wet comb method and begin the process of extermination.
If combing, remember it needs to be done on a regular basis. Comb through every few days for at least two weeks for every head in the house, ideally with their own comb to prevent cross infestation.
Physical and chemical treatments should all be done together at the same time to ensure nothing escapes and should follow the exact instructions as per the individual treatment.
5. SAFEGUARD AGAINST FUTURE ATTACKS
As we mentioned at the start, head lice infestations can’t be fully prevented. There is however, a Vamousse shampoo which can be used on a regular basis as a replacement for your normal shampoo. The shampoo helps stamp out undetected head lice infestations as it occurs.
However, if you or a family member do end up contracting head lice don’t panic! Vamousse’s head lice treatment mousse is fast working and effective - and is clinically proven to kill up to 100% of Lice and Eggs.
*The NHS is independent and does not endorse any specific product.