Lice Lies — Fact Vs

Lice Lies — Fact Vs. Fiction

That creepy crawling you’re feeling in your hair may be more in your head than on your head.

By Beth Riedemann, Neighbor
Jun 21, 2011 6:36 pm ET | Updated Jul 24, 2016 2:10 am ET

If you’ve recently been exposed to lice (or you’re a garden-variety hypochondriac), that creepy crawling you’re feeling in your hair may be more in your head than on your head.

It takes about one month for an errant louse to set up shop and procreate a network of friends and family large enough to see and feel them in your hair. And stop squirming around in your chair, itching your arms and legs. They don’t stray from the head. Head lice have no interest in your hairy chest, armpits, legs, or any other area of your body (and I know you know that I know where else you’re thinking. I know, I know. But no. Not there, either. And that faux innocent look on your face is not convincing).

First, some Fun Facts:

  • Lice do not burrow, fly, or jump.
  • Lice prefer straight, fine hair over coarse, curly hair.
  • Lice cannot survive, off-head, more than 24 hours.
  • Lice cannot survive extreme heat or cold temperatures.
  • Lice can hold their teeny little breath for up to 8 hours.
  • Lice have short legs with claws at the end that allow them to expertly hang on to the hair shaft — even in wind, the pool, and during hair washing.

Let’s assume lice are squatting on your property. How do you get rid of them?

Step 1: Kill them and their eggs (nits) at the source in one fell swoop (I don’t really know what a ‘fell swoop’ is, either, but I like to say it a lot). Remember, they can hold their breath a long time. Suffocation tactics like vaseline, olive oil, and mayonnaise do not work. And putting a plastic bag over your kid’s head is probably a bad idea, too. I’m pretty confident DFACS would frown upon that. Enzymes seem to work the best. Be sure to get them all, though. Leaving behind one little nit can kick off a whole new nation. Better yet. Spare your sanity and call Helping Hands to do the search and destroy ( / 1-888-206-8773).

Step 2: Perform general housekeeping tasks to prevent reinfestation. Without a scalp to call home, they’re not as hardy as we think. So resist the urge to burn down your house. Also, there’s no need to wash or replace everything in your closet. Unless you flit around in there like a deranged burlesque dancer (if you do, no judgments from me). Head Lice are not interested in your wardrobe. They have no desire to leave the mother ship (your scalp) for some outdated, drab, poorly-fitting fashion-don’ts. They wouldn’t be caught dead in your euro trash threads. Literally.

There’s no need to replace your furniture, the kids’ stuffed animals, or the bedding (unless you’re jonesin’ for some new stuff). Lice do not hang out on the couch, drinkin’ beers, waiting for someone to join them. They don’t leave the scalp (on purpose).

But in the event that one or two have gotten fat and lazy and fallen off the host or a few previously shed hairs with teeny nits are lying around, the following tasks will eradicate the little guys:

  • Vacuum rugs/carpeting, upholstered furniture, throw pillows.
  • Wash bedding in hot water and place in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes to induce lice heat stroke (a little evil laughter while pressing the start button may be rewarding, too).
  • Put combs, brushes, hair accessories in a sealed baggie and freeze for 24 hours.
  • Park your car outside in the hot sun, windows closed to bake any free-thinkers. (The lice. Not your kids. There’s nothing we can do about the kids’ free-thinking, I’m afraid.)
  • Quarantine a room for 24-48 hours, if necessary (like if there’s too many items to treat or you’re lazy like me. HRH’s room, for instance, is loaded with crap. Rather than stash all 43 million stuffed animals in the dryer with her bedding, I shut the door and walked away for 48 hours. She slept with us — which was torturesome — till she got the all-clear).
  • Do not fumigate your home or spray pesticides in your bed.

Now let’s debunk some myths. This is the information that spins out of control and does more damage than the creepy bugs, themselves.

  • Lice are not the dirty man’s scourge. Actually, human head lice love them some squeaky clean hair shafts. It’s easier to hang on to. And speaking of men, lice infestations among men are statistically lower than that of women. Big shock, eh ladies? (sarcasm)
  • Lice do not burrow into mattresses, pillows, and furniture and lay in wait. They do not go dormant like bed bugs. They go dead.
  • Head lice will not crawl from a person’s head, across a desk, up your arm, and onto your head. Lice are not marathoners nor do they particularly enjoy walking on flat surfaces. Their stumpy legs and claw-like «feet» are designed for clinging for dear life to the hair shaft. To the human head louse, walking is cumbersome and just not worth the effort (generally, I feel the same way).
  • Long-term infestations and reinfestations most likely stem from not getting every last louse and nit from the head the first time around. Not from poor housekeeping.
  • Casual contact cannot spread lice. Put your pitch forks and torches down. No need to defriend people on Facebook who have (bravely) confirmed an outbreak. Pay no attention to ill-informed fear mongers. For the most part, lice require head-to-head contact to do their bidding.
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Sure, it’s somewhat possible to get lice from prolonged contact with an inanimate object harboring a dazed and confused louse or by accidentally walking off with someone’s strand of nitted hair. Here’s how to stave off that risk:

  • Mix 15-20 drops of mint essential oil or mint extract with 8 ounces of water. If you or your child will be heading into a high risk environment (camp, sleep over, movie theater chairs, etc), spray hair with the mint mix. Tea tree oil works in place of mint, as well. Lice are repelled by the smell.
  • Dry hair at the roots using a hair dryer. The heat will kill lice and dry out nits before they can colonize. A low-heat setting is sufficient. No need to sear a hole in your brain.
  • Use hair products or styling appliances, if appropriate. Lice cannot get an adequate hold onto hair that is coated with gel or hair spray, etc. And the heat of flat irons and curling irons does not make lice feel cozy and welcome.
  • Put girls’ hair up into pony tails or buns. While wind in the hair is great for a photo shoot, it’s also conducive to fly-away-hair-contact with other people’s hair in the photo shoot.

There it is, boys and girls. There’s really no need to be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s not our cleanliness, habits, or lifestyles that cause us to get lice. Or prevents us from getting rid of them. Rather, it’s all the obnoxious misinformation that sets us up for exposure and treatment failure.

Stop the madness, I say!! Maybe we need lice awareness ribbons? T-shirts that say, «I had lice, not the bubonic plague»? Bumper stickers that read, «Honk if you’re a lice slayer»?

Does Hot Water Kill Bacteria?

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

People who hand-wash a lot of dishes often wonder whether hot water kills germs. Others want to know if hot water kills germs in the laundry. And some people want to save a little money and use cold water for both dishwashing and laundry. Does anyone have it right? Yes and no. Hot water is capable of killing some germs, but the real question is, how hot must the water be, and for how long do the germs have to be exposed to it?

Too Hot for Hand-Washing

While it is possible to kill some bacteria with hot water alone, the water has to be at a temperature well above what your skin can tolerate. Most people can tolerate a temperature of 110 degrees for a short time, but that’s about it.

Specific water temperatures for killing germs are difficult to pinpoint, but drinking water provides a good reference. To sanitize water for drinking, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends boiling the water for at least 1 minute, at altitudes up to 5,000 feet. At higher elevations, water should be boiled for 3 minutes. So that’s 212 degrees F (at sea level) to reliably kill bacteria and pathogens to make water potable. By contrast, most dish and clothes washing are done at temperatures lower than 120 degrees (the standard-setting on home hot water heaters), so it’s not safe to assume you’re killing a lot of germs with the hot water.

Hot Water Does Aid Cleaning

Even it hot water doesn’t kill much bacteria, it does help to get your dishes and clothes cleaner, thus ridding them of potential hosts for bacteria. Hot water and detergent together attack oils and grime. That oil and grime that you rinse away with the water contains bacteria or could otherwise host bacteria. Without hot water, the detergent is less effective, and oily dishes and clothes don’t get as clean.

How to Sanitize Dishes and Clothes

Since it’s not feasible to sanitize your dishes or clothes with boiling water, you have to use a disinfectant. With laundry, you can wash the clothes and disinfect at the same time, using an appropriate disinfecting detergent for the wash cycle. To sanitize dishes, you must wash the dishes first, then soak them in a sanitizing solution to kill bacteria. The easiest reliable method to sanitize dishes is to use chlorine bleach:

1. Prepare a solution of 2 teaspoons household bleach per gallon of water in a clean sink or washing tub.

2. Wash the dishes thoroughly with hot water and your favorite dish detergent, then rinse. Be sure to do this in a separate sink basin or washing tub from the bleach solution.

3. Soak the washed dishes in the bleach solution for at least 2 minutes. The dishes must be submerged.

4. Lift each dish out and drain it into the sink, then air-dry it on a clean dish rack.


Do not use a bleach solution with aluminum, iron, plain steel (non-stainless), or enameled cookware with chips or exposed metal. Bleach accelerates rust.

There are very good reasons why you must wash the dishes first and air-dry them. Washing the dishes removes food and oils that would reduce the effectiveness of the bleach solution. Air-drying prevents cross-contamination from drying multiple dishes with the same towel (and towels are common hosts for bacteria).

4 Natural Remedies to Treat Head Lice

I am scratching my head while I write this post. No, I don’t have head lice dwelling on my head. It’s just the thought of these crawly little bugs that’s making me scratch.

Lice live on human head, feeding on blood they suck from the scalp. They are so tiny and fast that it’s difficult to get them and get rid of them. And their eggs are stubbornly attached to hair shaft close to the scalp. Picking these eggs can be painful and often without much success. It’s as if the mother louse is on a mission to lay eggs on every hair shaft on the head, so we are left helpless and our head scratchy and bruised.

Head lice infestation is a world-wide menace. It doesn’t matter if you wash your hair every day, every alternate day, once a week or never ever (yekss!) – anyone can get head lice, regardless of personal hygiene. And any age group can get lice. Although, it’s specially more prevalent among children, who have more head to head contact with other children. Also girls are more likely to get them – for some unknown reason (or simply because female blood tastes better :[[[)

See also:  CDC - Lice - Body Lice

What are the symptoms?

Most of us would scratch and scratch. But there are some who would have no symptoms – in that case these bugs are having a merry.

It’s better to have timely checks on school going children. Lice will not be easily visible, but you can check for eggs and nits (hatched empty shell). These are usually found close to the scalp – mostly behind the ears and back of the neck. Eggs are bright, transparent, tan to coffee-colored, while the nits appear white.

How do they Spread?

Lice do not have wings to jump, or fly, or swim, but they can transfer from one head to another through direct head to head contact, or by direct contact with fabrics harboring them, or sharing personal care items – comb, towel, and other accessories. These tiny parasites need human blood to survive. So, if a louse drops off from the host’s head, it will die in about 2 to 3 days.

Recently, there has been a rapid increase in number of head lice cases among the younger generation. It’s likely due to selfies – people putting their heads together for pictures.

Head lice life cycle

Louse can reproduce and multiply easily on the host’s head. Eggs are laid couple of days after mating. A female louse will lay 4 to 7 eggs per day for the next 2 weeks or so before dying. The eggs are attached with a specialized glue, secreted by the female louse, which cannot be washed out or blown away. These eggs hatch, producing nymphs (immature louse) and the remnants of egg-shell is called as nits. Within 8 to 9 days of hatching, the nymphs reach the adult stage, and are ready to mate. Adults live approximately 2 weeks after mating. Thus, the entire lifespan of the louse is about 30 to 35 days.

Head Lice Treatment

Getting rid of lice is difficult and troublesome. Conventional over-the-counter(OTC) treatments may contain harsh chemicals, which can harm your skin and hair. Plus, they can also be toxic to the environment. Moreover, many of these OTC treatments may prove ineffective, especially if the lice have developed resistance. The good news is that there are many proven, age-old natural remedies to treat head lice. These options are safe, kind to the skin and hair and do not harm the environment. These are as follows:

4 Natural Remedies to Treat Head Lice

1. Neem Oil

Neem oil is one of the best home remedy to treat head lice and nits. Neem oil is extracted from fruits and seeds of the neem tree, which is native to Indian subcontinent.

How does neem kill the lice: Neem contains azadirachtin, an insecticidal ingredient, which disrupts the growth and reproduction of lice, and so it will eventually kill them. Plus, the other ingredients in neem inhibit the swallowing system of lice, thus reducing their appetite to the point of starvation. In addition, the pungent odor of neem oil is strongly disliked by lice, thus keep them away from crawling into your head. Thus, you can also use this oil as a preventive treatment.

Neem oil also has immense healing and soothing properties. So along with getting rid of lice, this wonderful oil will help with scalp irritation caused by constant scratching. Plus, the high amounts of fatty acids and glycerides in the neem oil moisturises the scalp skin and add shine and softness to your hair.

To Use: Dilute 1 teaspoon neem oil with 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil. Massage this mix onto the scalp and hair, and leave on for at least one hour (overnight might help more). Shampoo as usual. Repeat every alternate day for month or two. Chances are that the lice will be dead within a week or so, but you may continue using neem oil for more time just to ensure that all the nits that are hatching are dead as well.

2. Lice Comb

Fine-toothed lice comb is another effective method of removing lice and nits from the hair. You can use lice comb along with the neem oil treatment or just on its own. The advantage of using lice comb with neem oil is that the soothing properties of neem oil will help with scalp irritation and abrasion caused by constant scratching.

There are few draw backs of lice comb. Running a lice comb through thick, long hair can be difficult. Also, it’s almost impossible to comb through very curly and coily hair.

To use: Before using lice comb apply neem oil or any other oil, so it will be easier for the comb to slid through without damaging or breaking your hair. Comb sections of the hair, paying special attention at the base of the neck and behind the ears (where the lice is most likely to lay its eggs). After combing few times wipe the comb on paper towel to see if you’ve found anything. Combing the hair at least thrice a week for three to four weeks will help to gradually remove eggs and newly hatched lice.

3. Vinegar

If you are struggling to get rid of the stubborn eggs/nits then vinegar can help. The acetic acid in vinegar works to dissolve the sticky glue with which the eggs are attached to the hair. So after the glue gets dissolved the eggs will have nothing to bind to the hair. And they can be removed easily.

To use: Take one part vinegar and one part water. Pour this mixture all over the hair and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Then comb hair with a nit comb. Apply coconut oil, olive oil or any other oil before combing – this will make combing easier and tangle free. Repeat every 2 days or until you don’t see any more nits.

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Note: Take special care to avoid vinegar entering from your eyes, as it can sting badly

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree essential oil is an all-natural parasiticide (kills parasite) and an extremely effective treatment for head lice. Plus, tea tree oil will also help to clear up any dandruff (caused due to fungus), as it also has anti-fungal properties.

To use: Mix 20 drop of tea tree oil into 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (olive, coconut, sesame). Apply thoroughly, saturating hair with oil mix. Let it work for couple of hours, then shampoo normally. Do regular egg checks and repeat treatment if concerned.

Further measures that may help

  • To prevent re-infection, wash bed-sheets, pillow covers, scarves, clothes, towels and other items that the infested person wore or used.
  • Also soak combs and brushes in hot, soapy water for 5 to 10 mins.
  • Vacuum mattress, upholstered furniture, carpets, and car seats.
  • Do not share combs, brushes, towels, pillows with the infested person.
  • Continue to check hair for couple of months to be sure all lice and nits are gone.

Do you have any other home remedies to share?


Abdel-Ghaffar F, Al-Quraishy S, Al-Rasheid KA, Mehlhorn H. “Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages. Parasitology Research (2011), 110(1), 277-80.

Emanuela Di Campli, Soraya Di Bartolomeo, Patricia Delli Pizzi, Mara Di Giulio, Rossella Grande, Antonia Nostro, and Luigina Cellini. Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parasitology Research (2012), 111(5), 1985–1992.

Can You Drink Distilled Water?

Is Distilled Water Safe?

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College

Distillation is one method of water purification. Is distilled water safe to drink or as good for you as other types of water? The answer depends on a few different factors.

In order to understand whether distilled water is safe or desirable to drink, let’s take a look at how distilled water is made:

What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is any water that has been purified using distillation. There are multiple types of distillation, but all of them depend on separating components of a mixture based on their different boiling points. In a nutshell, water is heated to its boiling point. Chemicals that boil off at a lower temperature are collected and discarded; substances that remain in a container after the water evaporates also are discarded. The water that is collected thus has a higher purity than the initial liquid. As pure water becomes increasingly harder to find, industrial scale distillation continues to evolve.

Key Takeaways: Drinking Distilled Water

  • Distilled water is water purified using distillation. In this process, different boiling points are used to separate components in the water.
  • Generally, distilled water is safe to drink. However, it is not the best choice for drinking water.
  • Distilled water contains fewer metals and minerals than its source water. Since some minerals are essential for human health, drinking distilled water may not be a healthy option.
  • In some cases, distilled water is contaminated by chemicals from the still. This is more common in home distillation set-ups.
  • Distilled water, like other bottled water, is susceptible to leaching from its container.
  • Distilled water is a good choice for drinking water if the source water is contaminated by metals, volatile organic compounds, or fluoride.

Can You Drink Distilled Water?

Usually, the answer is yes, you can drink distilled water. If drinking water is purified using distillation, the resulting water is cleaner and more pure than before. The water is safe to drink. The disadvantage to drinking this water is that most of the natural minerals in the water are gone. Minerals are not volatile, so when the water boils off, they are left behind. If these minerals are desirable (e.g., calcium, magnesium, iron), the distilled water might be considered inferior to mineral water or spring water. On the other hand, if the initial water contained trace amounts of toxic organic compounds or heavy metals, you might want to drink distilled water rather than the source water.

Generally, distilled water that you would find at a grocery store was made from drinking water, so it is fine to drink. However, distilled water from other sources may not be safe to drink. For example, if you take nonpotable water from an industrial source and then distill it, the distilled water may still contain enough impurities that it remains unsafe for human consumption.

Another situation that could lead to impure distilled water results from using contaminated equipment. Contaminants could leach out of the glassware or tubing at any point of the distillation process, introducing unwanted chemicals. This is not a concern for commercial distillation of drinking water, but it could apply to home distillation (or moonshine distillation). Also, there may be unwanted chemicals in the container used to collect the water. Plastic monomers or leaching from glass are a concern for any form of bottled water.

History of Water Distillation

People have been distilling drinking water from sea water since at least 200 AD. Alexander of Aphodisias described the process. However, historians believe water distillation predates this, since Aristotle refers to water distillation in Meteorologica.

In the modern era, it’s common for distillers to add back minerals to distilled water for drinking to improve flavor and confer health benefits. Regular distilled water is important for laboratory experiment to control the composition of the solvent. Distilled water is commonly used for aquarium water to avoid introducing contaminants and microorganisms from tap water. Humidifiers and evaporators benefit from using distilled water because it doesn’t lead to mineral buildup or scale. Ocean vessels routinely distilled sea water to make drinking water.

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