Question: Why is it that when I was young and had lice, my mother had to bag up all the toys, throw away pillows, clean the carpets, vacuum the couches and do tons of laundry? But now you say that is not necessary. Why? Have head lice changed over the years?
Answer: 15-20-30 years ago there was not a lot of research being done on head lice. But there was a lot of information about other parasites such as fleas, bed bugs and body lice. Because of that, head lice was thought to be like these other blood sucking parasites which can sustain life for a long period of time without their host.
Fleas can live and breed in your carpets and couches, body lice (not the same as head lice) can live in your clothing and spread disease and bed bugs infiltrate your bedding. As more research has been done in recent years with head lice it has been proven that head lice CAN NOT do any of these things. Head lice can only sustain life on the scalp of human beings.
They are VERY reliant to their host and need to feed every few hours to stay alive. Head lice know this and are not going to purposely leave your head, unless to go directly to another host (head to head/hair to hair contact. So they will not hang out on your couch hoping that a better host will come by. After only a few hours off of the head, they are so dehydrated and weak that they are no longer a threat to anyone. So long story short, your mom didn't have to stress out about all that cleaning after all.
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