Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nit Pickers

Posted By on March 23, 2016, 4:00 AM

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I've never had a bloody nose, even though I've broken my nose three times. I'm lucky to have escaped cold sores and even luckier to have never had lice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 6-12 million kids age 3-11 get head lice, and, well, that just creeps me out. Adults get lice, too—it's a problem in dorms, shelters and even hotels.

Lice have three evil forms: eggs (also called nits), nymphs and adults. They don't hop or fly but catch rides on hair, crawling from one head to another. Think you're too old to get lice? Anyone who has lice has their vile little forms crawling all over their hats, scarves, coats and in their towels and hairbrushes. If you spent the night with an infected person, and accidentally grabbed their hat off the sofa at a party, you could be doomed—the little bastards could crawl into your virgin hair as soon as they make contact, and lay their little nits on your scalp.

The eggs are almost impossible to see and are as small as a knot of thread. Folks who've never before been in contact with the creatures might be fooled into thinking that lice eggs (nits) are dandruff or loose scabs. Nits take about 8-9 days to hatch and then the little vampires must seek blood, preferably the blood in your scalp. As they feed, they get bigger, growing to the size of a sesame seed. And if this hasn't grossed you out enough, they can also be found in your eyelashes or eyebrows. You'll notice them because it feels like something is crawling on your skin or moving in your hair. These blood suckers are most active in the dark, and people I know who've had lice say they go just about mad scratching their heads till they bleed before they figure out they're infected.

And they're tough to get rid of, too. In Utah there is a company called Hair Maidens (801-450-6412, UtahHairMaidens.com) that will come to your home and check the heads of family members, give professional comb-outs with non-pesticide lice treatments and guarantee their work for 21 days. That is an icky job. And now those super head lice are out there, lurking, as they have developed resistance to over-the-counter treatments. But thanks to research conducted at the University of Utah, there is a solution. Called AirAllé (AirAlle.com), it's a device resembling a hair dryer that dehydrates lice and their eggs in a one-hour treatment using heated air that won't burn your scalp. Check the website to find a provider near you. Kill them, kill them, kill them all!

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