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Removing Head Lice is a Filipino Pastime

RT Cunningham | August 29, 2020 (UTC) | Health

head liceI’m not kidding. It’s mostly Filipino women I see removing head lice from other people, but I’ve seen men as well - usually working on a girl’s head. They will spend hours and hours delousing hair, and they seem to enjoy doing it. The only thing Filipinos spend more time doing (in general) is gambling, drinking and karaoke.

Just for your information, the singular form of “lice” is “louse”, which is where the word “lousy” comes from. The Filipino word for louse or lice is kuto, which is probably the origin of the English word, “cootie”. Don’t laugh. The Filipino word, bundok, is confirmed as the origin of the English word, “boondocks”.

The Head Lice Problems and Treatments

It’s amazing, to me, how so many people can be afflicted with head lice. They spread in many ways and it seems to me that no one wants to put any effort into preventing it from happening. If children are playing together and one child has head lice, all of them will have it. If two or more children sleep in a bed and one child has it, all of them will have it. The solution is treat an entire group for it, not one at a time.

In the area where I live in Olongapo, the number one treatment seems to be using louse combs and picking them from the hair strands one by one. I know for a fact they can buy lice shampoo because I’ve bought it myself.

A few years ago, one of my older nieces had a horrible case of head lice. No one wanted to work on her head because it seemed fruitless. I went to one of the drug stores and asked for kuto shampoo, and I was told they didn’t have it. A relative was with me and repeated it as lice shampoo, and they suddenly had it. Apparently, not everyone in the Philippines knows that kuto translates into lice.

Just before I left the Philippines in 2012, I bought two small bottles of lice shampoo for two other nieces. The other niece no longer needed it. To this day, she has no lice in her hair. That’s probably because she’s too old to play with other children and because she’s the only one who sleeps in her own bed.

Head Lice at School

The children in the Philippines go to school whether they have head lice or not. The private and public school systems don’t seem to have a problem with it.

When I was growing up, children who had lice weren’t allowed to go to school until the situation was rectified. I understand some school districts (probably in California) now allow them to go. I wonder how long it’ll be before they declare it as an epidemic or something.

Photo Attribution: Gilles San Martin / CC BY-SA
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in January 2016.

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