Lice advice: How to kill the pesky, irritating bugs

Head lice can be an irritating nuisance and can spread fast if not treated.

As many as 12 million kids a year will bring lice home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But anyone young or old can fall victim of lice.

Former school nurse Timecka Bush has traded in band-aids for nit picking combs, specializing in those pesky, itchy and sometimes painful bugs.

“We get a lot of complete infestations,” Bush said. “We get a lot of people with sores in their head.”

That’s exactly what happened to Linda Zimmerman, who is still dealing with red, raw wounds.

“I just started itching,” Zimmerman said. “My head was itching.”

Five months and four doctors later, Zimmerman finally found out she had lice thanks to Bush.

“I felt relieved. I was so, I was starting to think I was going crazy,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman turned to the Lice Heads located in Fort Myers for help. Bush said it’s important to continue to check her client’s heads to make sure all the bugs are gone and in Zimmerman’s case, to make sure her scalp heals.

“All it takes is to miss one egg, one bug and the cycle just continues,” Bush said.

What makes services like Bush’s in demand across the country is the fact that some lice are outsmarting the treatments.

Over the years, “super lice” have emerged, resistant to common over-the-counter treatments.

But there is good news.

Dr. Annette St. Pierre-Mackoul said if people are meticulous and persistent they can treat head lice at home with simple products found in the kitchen.

“You use olive oil, mayonnaise, coat up your child’s head. Put a shower cap on top, and then the key is that you need a metal comb,” St. Pierre-Mackoul said. “They sell them in a store. They’re called lice combs and you just have to comb your child’s head every single night for those 7 nights.”

Resources from the CDC:

Why do some experts recommend bagging items for 2 weeks?

Head lice survive less than one or two days if they fall off the scalp and cannot feed. Head lice eggs (nits) cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they do not remain under ideal conditions of heat and humidity similar to those found close to the human scalp. Therefore, because a nit must incubate under conditions equivalent to those found near the human scalp, it is very unlikely to hatch away from the head. In addition, if the egg were to hatch, the newly emerged nymph would die within several hours if it did not feed on human blood.

However, although rarely necessary, some experts recommend that items that may be contaminated by an infested person and that cannot be laundered or dry-cleaned should be sealed in plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks to kill any lice that already are present or that might hatch from any nits that may be present on the items.

Should my pets be treated for head lice?

No. Head lice do not live on pets. Pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice.

Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?

No. Using fumigant sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant sprays and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Do I need to have my home fumigated?

No. Use of insecticide sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant spray and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Routine house cleaning, including vacuuming of carpeting, rugs, furniture, car seats, and other fabric covered items, as well as laundering of linens and clothing worn or used by the infested person is sufficient. Only items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person in the 48 hours before treatment need be considered for cleaning.

Should I have a pest control company spray my house?

No. Use of insecticide sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant spray and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.

Routine vacuuming of floors and furniture is sufficient to remove lice or nits that may have fallen off the head of an infested person.

Will laundering kill head lice?

Washing, soaking, or drying items at a temperature greater than 130°F can kill both head lice and nits. Dry cleaning also kills head lice and nits. Only items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person in the 48 hours before treatment should be considered for cleaning.

Although freezing temperatures can kill head lice and nits, several days may be necessary depending on temperature and humidity; freezing is rarely (if ever) needed as a means for treating head lice.

Reporter:
SHARE