Ask any elementary school parent what one of their biggest fears are, and they’ll tell you head lice. The thought of their child bringing home tiny parasites to share with the rest of the family can be too much to handle. Plus, there’s a social stigma surrounding head lice. People still think lice are associated with being dirty, so parents worry they’ll be publicly shamed and shunned from their community. No playdates. No sleepovers. And possibly no school.
But, this is only in America.
That’s right. In other countries, there is no freaking out over head lice. It’s a simple fact of life, just like getting pimples. Can you imagine head lice without the drama?
Head Lice are Acceptable in Other Countries
As this article from the Boston Globe shares, children living in the Netherlands get lice all the time. There are designated “lice mothers” who check children’s heads for lice and pick them out. Getting lice is unlucky, but nothing to get upset over.
The Netherlands aren’t alone. Head lice exist in all countries, affecting some 6-12 million children each year. In other countries, including socially developed ones, kids get lice all the time. It’s not a big deal. In fact, parents let each other know so they can watch out for it, too.
Why Americans Obsess About Lice
Why, in America, are head lice taboo? Experts say there is confusion between head lice and body lice. Body lice do transmit disease and were more likely to be found on people from lower socioeconomic classes. Older generations did not separate body lice from head lice, so this mentality was passed down to younger generations.
Today, Americans still have the impression that head lice are connected to cleanliness and disease, but this isn’t true. The American Academy of Pediatrics is working hard to change this perception, but there is still misinformation and misunderstandings out there.
Do Other Countries Treat Head Lice?
In developed countries, like the Netherlands, treatment is used to control lice infestations. However, a lot of their care is directed towards prevention. Parents routinely comb their children’s hair to check for lice. If they find a louse, they remove and that’s that.
In less developed countries, lice truly are a mild inconvenience. People worry more about finding food and avoiding life-threatening diseases like malaria. My Hair Helpers has seen this firsthand through our Lice Free Forever Charity program. We travel the world and provide head lice services to those who cannot afford treatment.
It’s interesting to learn how other cultures view lice. Lice are taboo in the U.S., but the academy is working hard to change this perception. We still have a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere! Because we understand that many people appreciate their privacy, we have a full range of lice treatment solutions that include in-home appointments and DIY lice kits. Let us know how we can help you and your family.