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December 3, 2013

Untangling 7 myths about head lice

(Continued)

But Eckert says that, pesticide resistance or no, the key is "meticulous combing" with a fine-toothed metal comb that removes the eggs from the hair shaft.

"It's time-consuming, back-breaking work," says Kay Sessoms, whose two daughters, 11 and 13, have had "the four-letter L-word" at least four times each over the past seven years. Sessoms, who lives in Bethesda, Md., adds that she has spent the length of "two Disney movies" combing out the nits from each daughter's hair, inch by inch.

Eckert and Lice Happens' 12 other "lice specialists" can do a full comb-out in an average of 90 minutes for girls and as little as 15 or 20 minutes for boys (the price is $100 an hour plus a service-call fee), and they will teach parents how to do the necessary follow-up combing for the next 14 days.

6. You can suffocate lice.

Eckert says she'll show up for house calls and parents will come to the door with their child's hair covered in petroleum jelly, wrapped in cellophane and topped with a shower cap. "They read online somewhere that you can suffocate lice with Vaseline, olive oil or mayonnaise," she says. "They get dubious results at best, and it's not going to kill the nits."

7. If you have lice, your head will be itchy.

Many people with lice don't itch. For those who do, the itchiness may not begin until a few weeks into the infestation. Since head scratching isn't always present as a warning sign, many experts suggest that parents do periodic lice checks on their children.

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