What Kids Next Door Got Wrong About Head Lice (and What They Got Right!)

It’s true that lice like to keep a low profile (you know, because they live in scalps, hidden under bushy expanses of hair), but they’ve had their fair share of fame and airtime. Cartoon Network’s popular show Codename: Kids Next Door had an entire episode dedicated to head lice—and it soon became nightmare fuel for every child that watched the episode.

The Plot

The Episode follows five tree house dwelling children who contract lice and are chased by the bug. Here’s how the episode went, and the things that the cartoon got wrong:

Right: Cap Swap

The story begins when Number 5 gets her cap swapped, which eventually leads to itching in her head. This is exactly how head lice get transferred: from contact. Sharing combs, brushes, hats and other headgear or earphones is a surefire way to extract head lice.

Right: The Itching

Number 5’s head begins to itch badly, and while it’s true that lice infestation causes itching, it isn’t due to the presence of lice that somebody’s head itches. It’s the lice bites on the scalp that itch.

Wrong: Lice Getting Really Big . . . Like, REALLY big

After taking her hat off, Number 5 realizes that her head has been itching due to head lice . . . no, head louse. Only one of them. And a bloody big one. It sits on her head, as big as dog. Fact: Lice don’t really get that big. (Duh!)

Wrong: White Lice

The lice are also shown to be white, with glowing red eyes. While lice tend to be translucent, they usually turn a darker shade as they feed and grow, mostly found in black and brown variations.

Absolutely Wrong: Lice Eat Hair

It is revealed after the louse jumps off Number 5’s head that the hair from her scalp is partially gone. While terrifying, this is, of course, not true. Lice don’t eat hair—otherwise the 6 to 12 million people affected by lice infestations every year in America would be bald.

Criminally Wrong: Lice Eat . . . Teddy Bears?

As the children run from room to room, they find a stack of teddy bears: torn and shredded. Apparently, they had been chewed on by lice. To tell the truth, while lice can reside for a luminal period of time on children’s toys—given they keep the toy close to their bodies—lice neither survive on toys for long nor eat stuffing. Reassure your children: their toys are safe. This show really had something against teddy bears.

Right: Number Four Had it Right – But Nobody’s Hurt!”

As the children discuss how to get “revenge” on the lice, Number Four – the resident cynic – comments how nobody has been hurt. He’s right: lice don’t inflict injuries or hurt people. They are just . . . very annoying. And they reproduce like mad.

Partially Wrong: Lice Reproduce Rapidly . . . Like, in Seconds

Speaking of reproduction, we see the first louse at 2:53 minutes into the episode and 4:55 minutes into the episode, a horde of lice have infested the tree house. Now while it’s true that lice reproduce rapidly, it still takes them some time. First, adult lice must find mates (or they die single and sad). Then the female lays eggs: one at a time, about 6 times a day, every day. Then, the nit (louse eggs) takes 8 to 10 days to hatch. So lice definitely take more than 2.02 minutes to reproduce and multiply, as shown in the episode.

Just . . . Plain Wrong: Lice Don’t Like Nacho Cheese

The kids discover that they can “malt” lice using nacho sauce/cheese. While an effective dues ex machine trick (seeing as how the kids have a huge room full of extra cheese), nacho cheese isn’t really the right anti-lice tool. What’s worse is trying to get all that nasty cheese out of your hair—which is probably going to attract a ton of other insects. Bottom line: bad idea. And just by the way, who doesn’t like nacho sauce? Even insects wouldn’t be that tasteless.

Partially Right: The Lice Cannot “Snack” On Nigel’s Hair Because He’s Bald

Toward the end of the episode, the lice have eaten away almost all the hair on the children’s heads, and only one remains: Number 1; the bald one. A louse jumps onto his head and realizes that it cannot “snack” on him because he’s got no hair. Now while it’s true that bald people can’t have lice, it’s not because lice don’t have hair to eat. It’s because lice need hair shafts to lay their eggs on; and bald people have none. Well, at least Vin Diesel will never have to worry about head lice.

Don’t Try This At Home

While it’s true that KND’s nightmare fuel Operation L.I.C.E should have aired with a “Kids, Don’t Try This At Home” warning, it’s also obvious that the show was only trying to make kids scared and mindful of hair care to ward off invading bugs. The episode was also simply parodying the Aliens franchise, for in these movies the aliens do behave like lice. At the end of the day, a very scary public service message for kids. Nacho cheese isn’t going to help you if you’re looking to rid your hair of lice. What will help you is a call to Lice Troopers, a professional lice removal agency in Pembroke Pines or Hollywood. Dial 800-403-5423 or 754-206-6290  for more information and less itching!