Will More Outdoors Bring More Head Lice?
Let’s take a break from all the travel-related content and become more of a parent for a moment.
More often than not, when bringing a small kid along, especially a little girl, in the tropical heat here in the Philippines, people get so concerned about breeding more head lice.
Truth be told, this was one of the things I’ve always believed in since I was a young girl: that staying under the sun will cause the lice in your head to lay more eggs (or to kind of magically appear if you don’t have any).
Other misconceptions I’ve grown up with include jumping lice (as in, they can transfer from one head to another by jumping or flying) and thus many of us Filipino kids would go silent in terror, thinking about how the colony of lice living in one’s head could one day fly us to the top of the coconut tree.
Who here has not gotten this warning from their moms during their childhood?
Was my whole life a lie.
Apparently, more than half of the elementary school population in an average Filipino school suffers from head lice infestation to some degree.
This, and more, was discussed by Dr. Maridel R. McVeigh during a presentation at the Mandaue City Central School, as part of the Kilusang Kontra Kuto (KKK) campaign by shampoo brand, Licealiz.
What other things have I learned about head lice?
Apparently, head lice infestation isn’t caused by any of these:
- improper hygiene (thus you can go on for days without a bath and NOT get infested by head lice)
- too much sun exposure (hooray for traveling parents and kiddos – but just make sure you slather on the sunblock and take care of your skin!)
Head lice doesn’t even jump or fly because their legs are too short and they don’t have wings. However, sharing personal items like combs, brushes and towels could be a reason to get infected.
You have to remember too, that as long as there is hair on your head, you will be likely to get infested with head lice once you’ve been exposed to them!
(I remember watching a US TV show that featured a girl with head lice; they had the girl treated by a specialist. However, during treatment, one of the camera crew happened to get his hair in contact with that of the girl’s – he immediately had his hair shaved! As someone growing up in the Philippines, this was an extreme reaction for me!)
What you need to know about head lice:
Dr. McVeigh’s presentation really got to me because she was showing numbers and adding and multiplying them up.
Some important points you ought to keep in mind:
- Head lice can thrive for up to 30 days on a person’s head.
- Once they are out of the hair (and thus out of food supplies), they can still live up to three days.
- Lice can produce up to 100 lice eggs in its lifetime. Crazy!
I couldn’t remember the exact figures but all I know is that it doesn’t take too long for you to have 1,000 head lice living in your hair if you don’t do anything about it!
Why should you take action against head lice?
My little girl loves her hair long. In fact, we haven’t brought her to a salon to have her hair cut yet although we trim it a few inches about 2-3 times a year.
Last year, she had some serious head lice infestation, mostly from her cousin who also got it from her classmates, and as satisfying as it was to get all those lice removed and killed, it was also gross. Thank goodness there was Licealiz to the rescue.
Seriously, we loved that I didn’t have to deal with getting those pesky parasites removed one by one and I didn’t have to deal with the blood.
All I had to do was make sure my daughter uses her Licealiz shampoo 2-3 times a week. Every time she does it, I get a white towel or shirt (just because it makes it easier to spot the head lice) and rub and massage her head. For those that don’t get removed, I use a fine-toothed comb to do the finishing touches. It probably took us about a week or two to make her fully head lice free.
But why else would you want to get rid of head lice?
- You prevent serious infections from happening. I suffered from this twice – during my childhood and, embarrassingly, in my adulthood. My head was extremely itchy and was full of wounds and it got very difficult to wash it or keep myself from scratching it. Plus, it smelled really bad, too.
- You boost your confidence. It’s definitely much better to show off your tresses when you don’t have flaws like head lice in them, right?
- You become more productive. When my head got infected (past head lice infestation), it was hard to concentrate on work because my head was way too itchy. Now, think about those elementary students who suffer from the discomfort in school!
Off to the outdoors!
Boy, was I glad to know that head lice doesn’t actually come up from too much sun exposure. Now that I think of it, they were right – we never did catch one back when we were super active outdoors.
And we’ll be back again bringing two kiddos outdoors – without being scared of head lice infesting them…or us, parents!
Oh, hello there!
Pam is an outdoors-loving millennial momma who loves to hike, trek and camp in the beaches and mountains with her partner and their kiddos. When not exploring the great outdoors, she works with bloggers, coaches and solopreneurs to free up their time so they can work on the things that they love and enjoy the most.