Be glad your child has lice. Where did they come from and will they stay with us?
Lice were once thought to be beneficial to health. Mothers, grooming their children’s heads, left a few pieces. To this day, there is no better technology to fight lice than grooming, which can be a fun way to spend time together. Businesswoman Ewa Kopeć and entomologist Paulina Kozina talk about the eternal coexistence of humans and lice.
– I tell mums: be glad that your child has lice, because it means that the child is fine, that he has normal relations with his peers, that he has friends Ewa Kopec says: For four years, she has been running salons in several cities where nurses remove lice from people’s heads. The clients of her company “Mamy z Głowy” are mainly school and pre-school children (they come with their mothers). Nurses also carry out individual treatments at clients’ homes, as well as mass verification of heads for head lice in educational institutions, delousing workshops for parents, teachers and carers.
– Let’s teach children what lice are, but let’s not give up cuddling, let’s not forbid children from social contact, it’s the worst possible option. They will play together anyway, but when they remember our ban, they will feel guilty.
Children like lice, we see it in our salons. They are curious about them, they give them names, they compete with each other, who has more, who has more. They do not feel disgust towards them, it is only adults who pass on to them the negative emotions associated with lice. Mothers tend to blame their children for bringing the lice home. I have witnessed such conversations many times. Does any mother complain that her child has an ear infection? Not. While neither is the result of negligence on the part of either the mother or the child.
Just like mosquitoes, lice like some people more than others. This is an observation not confirmed by research. It is not known where it comes from, whether it is blood type, skin pH, the smell of sweat, but some people have a tendency to catch lice. Another observation: the first infestation increases the risk of another, as if the lice leave a chemical mark on the host. There are many things you can do to prevent head lice: keep your child’s hair tight, check them often before they start scratching, because it means that the next generation of lice is already living on their head, and when they do, tell the school about it.
Mothers say: my child brought lice from kindergarten. I always laugh about it, that it is absolutely never our family lice, but from someone. But if someone passed it on to our child, it could infect other children, growing lice on its head for several weeks. Therefore, intervention at the level of our child’s head will be effective to a limited extent. If we don’t talk to the parents of our child’s friends about having lice, they will come back to us. They will not literally be the same lice, but the next generations, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of those that our child had.
The shame of having lice is good for lice. Because of shame, we fight them secretly and alone, and they have better circulation in the environment. Fighting lice is a team sport. The recurrence of head lice does not come from an unwashed pillow.
I tell mothers that lice are one of the minor problems that happen to us, the best parasite that can be proud of today. They do not transmit dangerous diseases, do not require systemic treatment, do not need to administer oral medications. You can get rid of them in one evening. If you brush your hair properly, no preparation is needed.
Mothers spend most of their energy cleaning the apartment instead of cleaning their heads and believe that the drugstore preparation will do it for them. They use preparations more often and for longer than recommended by manufacturers, who in turn outdo each other in declarations of effectiveness, and mankind has not invented a better technology for centuries to fight head lice than combing wet hair with a dense metal comb, strand by strand, wiping the comb on white paper and watching paper under a magnifying glass to make sure nothing is moving there. Once we get used to it, this check-up will take five minutes, and if we find lice, we’ll comb them in two or three hours.
Many people have fantastic memories of having lice. How fun it was, they say, my mother combed my hair for hours, I kept my head on her lap and we talked. I miss this approach to lice today. We have our hands busy rummaging through our hair, we can’t rummage in smartphones then. Children come out of our salons and tell the nurses: it was the best day of my life, I wish I had lice again.
I say to mothers: make it a fun time with your baby.
For human lice, man has the best blood
Małgorzata Goślińska: Have you been studying lice for a long time?
Paulina Kozina, entomologist, Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology, Faculty of Biology, University of Gdańsk: – Since the doctorate, which is 10 years. I don’t know if anyone else in Poland deals with lice on a daily basis. They were intensively studied during the Second World War by Rudolf Weigl in Lviv. In Poland, a well-known lice specialist was Dr. Feliks Piotrowski, a scientist from Gdańsk. We remind ourselves of them when there is a sudden outbreak in schools, and then everyone is usually surprised: oh, there are still lice. They are and they are fine. I focus on lice from small mammals, most often rodents, because it is easier to obtain material for research, and there is still much to be discovered in this direction.
Is it different from the lice that humans have?
– The human lice lives only in humans. Attempts have been made to breed it on other animal species. She lasted the longest on guinea pigs and guinea pigs. Either it cannot reach the host’s blood vessels with its mouthparts, or it cannot digest the blood cells, and the substances contained in the blood cells crystallize in its intestines, tearing it apart from the inside. She can drink blood other than human, but it’s bad for her. Man has the best blood for her.
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