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Common Questions about Lice

October 12, 2017


Common questions parents ask us everyday.  



  • How do you treat a home or school for lice?

Homes or schools don't get head lice - people do. Head lice are human parasites and require human blood to survive. Vacuuming is the safest and best way to remove lice or fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals or car seats - wherever someone with head lice may have rested their head. Pesticidal sprays are unwarranted and may pose personal and environmental hazards. Vacuum and save your time and energy for what benefits you the most - thorough nit removal.


  • What can I do to prevent my child from getting lice again? 

You cannot prevent your from ever getting lice again.  You can however improve the odds by


  • Wearing hair in a ponytail.

  • A few studies have suggested certain ingredients in OTC products may repel lice. These ingredients include rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree or peppermint.

  • Do not share combs and hairbrushes, hats, etc.

  • Comb through you child’s hair once a week with a lice comb.

  • What product should I use to treat my child?

There are no over-the-counter or prescription treatments to kill lice that are totally safe and scientifically proven to be 100% effective against head lice and nits. These treatments are potentially harmful pesticides and reliance on them promotes repeated use and contributes to ongoing infestations, outbreaks and resistant strains of head lice.


Various "natural" remedies are vigorously marketed on the Internet but we have found no scientific basis for their claims..


Manual removal of the live lice and nits is the safe alternative and a necessary component of any head lice treatment regimen.


  • How can I tell if the nits are dead or alive?

Children, like adults, do not want nits in their hair - dead or alive. The time it would take to make the distinction is time far better spent removing ALL the nits. Finding 10 dead nits guarantees nothing for the 11th.


  • How long can nits and lice survive off of a head?

Once laid, it takes 7-10 days for a nit to hatch. Nits off the head may not even hatch at all as they are laid close to scalp because they need human warmth to incubate. A nit hatching off of a head results in tiny nymph head louse which, without an accessible/nearby human, is doomed because it requires an immediate blood meal.  Adult head lice off of their human hosts will generally not survive for more than 24 hours.


  • Are African Americans susceptible to lice infestations?

African Americans are reported to have a much lower incidence of head lice than Caucasians, Hispanics or Asian Americans. Pediatric Dermatology cites various studies that suggest the incidence among African American schoolchildren is less than half of one percent, while the incidence among their non-black schoolmates is usually more than 10 percent.  Even though African Americans may be less susceptible to infestations, this should not be grounds for complacency. African Americans can, and do, get head lice.

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