Hundreds of tiny bugs crawl across your scalp, your neck and under your clothes. They pierce your skin and suck your blood. The itching is unbearable. You may want to spray pesticide all over your body or burn down your house to get rid of them, but hold on, buddy. That’s only going to make things worse. Lice are parasitic creatures that spread by hopping from one person to another. They never miss the opportunity to jump onto your body, lay hundreds of eggs on your skin and start drinking your blood until they quench their thirst.
Lice infestations affect six to 12 million people every year in the United States alone, so they’re closer than you think. Make no mistake, these little suckers can kill you. Should you throw out all your clothes and furniture? Are your pets in danger? And how many of them are enough to kill you?
Number 1: Mistaking them for dandruff
Lice lay their eggs in the hair, very close to the scalp. Early signs of a lice infestation can be mistaken for dandruff, making you waste time on dandruff-fighting shampoos and allowing them to thrive. They only live for 30 days, but lay up to eight eggs every day. During their lifetime, they can lay more than 200 tiny bloodthirsty vampires on your head. On average, children with a lice infestation have 20 to 30 live lice on their scalp. If left untreated, this is enough to cause severe anemia that can lead to heart failure and death.
Number 2: Burning the house down
Unlike other common crawling nightmares like bedbugs, lice can’t thrive on furniture, and can’t survive away from us for more than 24 to 48 hours. So, no need to burn down the house or get rid of your pets this time, my friend. Simply vacuum your furniture and put any clothes, pillows and blankets through the wash to kill any eggs.
Number 3: Drowning them
Thousands of bugs crawl all over your skin, biting into your scalp, flesh and nether regions. You may be tempted to jump right into a pool or a lake and wait for them to drown. But that may take longer than you think. Lice can hold their breath for up to eight hours, so chances are you’ll drown long before they do.
Number 4: Spraying them with a pesticide.
Well, water hasn’t helped you get rid of these suckers, but how about pesticides? You may want to spray bug cleaners all over your house and body to kill them outright, but that’s the worst thing you can do. Your body can absorb pesticides through your skin, causing severe poisoning. So don’t even consider this as an option.
Number 5: Over-washing
You may think a lice infestation is a sign of poor hygiene, but over-washing your scalp will only make you more attractive to them. Since their goal is to feed on your blood and lay their eggs, lice prefer clean, washed scalps to dirty, greasy ones. Fortunately, there are many over-the-counter and prescription treatments that can help you overcome this nightmare.
- How to get rid of head lice when treatment fails (2022). American Academy of Dermatology.
- Dangers of Untreated Lice (2021). Lice Clinics of America- Milwaukee
- Lice Lies – Fact Vs. Fiction. Riedemann, B. (2011). Patch.
- Does Swimming in a Chlorinated Pool Kill Lice? Wilson, D. (2018). HealthLine
- The itchy truth: What to know about head lice. Storm, M. (2021). Mayo Clinic Health System.