The Embarrassment of Headlice

Head lice can be an embarrassing problem. However irrational it may be, parents the world over feel their cheeks reddening whenever their children get a head full of lice. Many parents won’t even mention the fact that their kids have caught these annoying little critters. A lot of these social issues stem from the many head lice myths that still persist and it is no surprise when looked at in this context that a head lice epidemic adds up to two things: irritation and embarrassment.

Parents still seem to think that if their child is suffering from head lice it is a bad reflection on their parenting skills. These worries are of course perfectly understandable. Head lice are, for many reasons, often viewed as the preserve of low income families.

This is, of course, nonsense.

Throughout history every race, religion and creed have suffered from head lice. From the ancient Egyptians to the Aztec Empire no civilisation has managed to avoid the suffering from an itchy scalp. Generation after generation have invented a range of odd, quirky and occasionally even silly treatments to rid themselves of the louse.

So a couple of common misconceptions should be debunked right now. Catching head lice has nothing to do without how dirty you or your scalp is. Nor for that matter do lice have any preference for clean hair. Head lice will make their home on any head, anywhere anytime.

An Australian survey from earlier this year showed that embarrassment and head lice are common bedfellows. In fact, 48 per cent of parents surveyed revealed they wouldn’t tell the school principal if their child had nits. Fifty-seven per cent of the 1000 parents surveyed said they were uncomfortable talking about their kids’ head lice at all.

The louse reticence is not just an antipodean problem, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Lyclear 47 per cent of Londoners found the problem embarrassing while in Northern Ireland the figure was a massive 71 per cent. One of the biggest reasons people gave for these feelings was because they thought people might judge them. Forty-three per cent of people surveyed in East Anglia gave this response while 50 per cent in Scotland felt this way.

The reality is that given how widespread the problem is no one should feel uncomfortable. In fact, one-in-three children in the UK are liable to get head lice during the year, regardless of their personal hygiene or their guardians’ parenting skills. It, of course, spread through direct contact between an infected person’s head and a head lice free scalp, or through the sharing of hats, combs and other head gear. If you need proof that head lice victims are not exclusively poor or unwashed then check out who else has suffered from louse trouble in the recent past.

A couple of years ago Madonna admitted that there was a head lice epidemic spreading through the halls of Ciccone Manor. Her three kids, Lourdes, David Banda and Mercy James were suffering from itchy scalps on a “reoccurring” basis. Another famous face, Al Pacino, was spotted dropping his son off at a head lice clinic in West Hollywood a few years back.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that head lice is not something to be embarrassed about, how about a British Prime Minister’s battle with the wingless insects?

David Cameron admitted to a roomful of journalists in February 2011 that Downing Street had been infiltrated by head lice. He said: “If you find them when you get home, I apologise. Let me know and I’ll send you a comb and some ointment.”

So if your child catches a scalpful of these troublesome parasites don’t worry and definitely don’t feel embarrassed, millions of people all over the world have head lice problems each year, even the rich and famous. And don’t forget Lyclear have a range of head lice products and treatments to help you get rid of head lice.


Australian survey

1 in 3 people stat:

Irish survey

David Cameron story: