Head Lice Mythology 101

Head Lice Mythology 101

A myth is an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true. When it comes to head lice, myths run rampant. Here are some common myths about the tiny creatures that can rein havoc on a school or a household…

Myth Number One: It’s all about dirt. Dirty scalp and hair, dirty household, dirty everything!
Fact: Dirt has nothing to do with head lice. They don’t care about it. They are only after human BLOOD!

Myth Number Two: Head lice carry and spread disease.
Fact: No, they don’t. They just spread fear and frustration.

Myth Number Three: Head lice can spread from people to their pets and vice versa.
Fact: No, they can’t. Head lice have to have human blood to survive.

Myth Number Four: Head lice can hop, jump, and fly from one head to another. Nits can fall off one head and go to another.
Fact: No, they can’t. Head lice are crawlers and have no wings. The cement-like substance that glues nits to the hair shaft makes them very hard to remove much less “fall off”.

Myth Number Five: Head lice infestations can be prevented by having short hair.
Fact: Not really. Head lice lay eggs at the scalp, not at the end of the hair strand.

Myth Number Six: Head lice have a hair type and color preference.
Fact: No, they don’t. As a matter of fact, they change their color to match the color of the host’s hair.

Myth Number Seven: Head lice can spread in swimming pools.
Fact: Although head lice can survive underwater for hours, they apparently do not like being there. They are known to hold on tightly to human hair when under water.

Myth Number Eight: Head lice can live anywhere.
Fact: No, they can’t. Their parasitic relationship with humans is such that they must feed on human blood to survive. The nits must have a source of heat to survive. Off the scalp, nits will die before they can hatch. Adults dehydrate quickly and cannot live for more than 24 to 48 hours. Thus, there is an extremely low likelihood that lice are spread to humans from non-human things.

Myth Number Nine: When one member of a household has head lice, every member of the household needs treatment and the entire house should be cleaned and fumigated.
Fact: No, they don’t and no, it doesn’t. Every member of the household should be checked for head lice but treated only if head lice or nits are found. The household? Refer to Myth Number Eight. Only the items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person 48 hours prior to treatment need to be cleaned using routine house cleaning measures.

Myth Number Ten: Not itching? Phew! No head lice!
Fact: You wish! Any itching that comes with head lice is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva secreted by the louse as it bites the skin at feeding time. Some people do not have a reaction and have lice for weeks before knowing it.

So there you have it… Some facts on the matter… For answers to questions and general myth-control, contact Mandy Ottesen and her team of professionals by calling 904-517-4087 or by visiting

Does Mayonnaise, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, or Tea Tree Oil Kill Head Lice?

Mayonnaise doesn't kill lice!Can you guess our short answer here?  NO!  The idea behind these home remedies is that these oils might suffocate the bugs.  In theory, this is a good idea, but there are major problems with using mayonnaise, olive oil, coconut oil, or tea tree oil to kill head lice.  Here’s a little lesson:  Head lice breathe through their backs.  They have tiny tubes on their backs called spiracles that act as their respiratory system.  The idea with using these oils to kill lice is that you can clog those spiracles, and the lice will suffocate.  But here’s the problem:  Lice can actually cut off those spiracles and hold their breath for up to eight hours! Because these oils are relatively thin, the bugs are easily able to shut those breathing tubes before the oil has a chance to seep into them to block them.  Again, there is not a smidgen of scientific data to back the use of any of these oils as an effective means to kill lice.  Further, as with hair dye, these oils will not do anything at all to the lice eggs (nits).