Head lice are tiny, wingless parasitic insects that live in the human head and feed on liberal amounts of blood extracted from the scalp. Lice are very common in young children. They are highly contagious, difficult to remove, and sometimes really annoying.
However, even if they are frustrating to handle, lice aren’t harmful. They don’t cause serious illness, though their bites can be itchy, scratchy, and irritating. This could result in secondary infections. It’s good to treat head lice immediately after they’re identified since they can easily be spread from one person to another. Here are some things you can do to combat head lice infestation:
1. Work under an intensive light, like the natural sunlight or a lamp.
Head lice are extremely difficult to detect just by merely looking at the hair. Using a support lamp or natural sunlight can help you easily spot head lice and their eggs.
2. Utilize a hairbrush or grooming comb.
There are specific types of combs that remove tangles and fasten off your hair when it isn’t being worked on. You can also opt for the LiceMeister comb to effectively detect head lice.
3. Check all sections of the hair for any attached nits and live lice.
Most nits or lice eggs are oval-shaped and grayish-white in color. Head lice usually lay their eggs close to your scalp, but can invade other parts of the hair shafts.
4. Use over-the-counter lice-killing products.
Ensure that you keenly follow all the provided instructions, keeping in mind that most OTC treatments for head lice are pesticides. Consult your physician or pharmacist before using such medications, especially if you’re pregnant, allergic, asthmatic, nursing, or if you have lice on the eyelashes and eyebrows. Don’t ever use products containing Lindane.
5. Wash beddings and clothing in extremely hot water.
Beddings and clothing used by an infected person should be washed and dried using hot water because lice and eggs are destroyed by heat exposure for 5 minutes, specifically to temperatures more than 53.5°C or 128.3°F. After washing, seal them in a plastic bag for about 14 days.
Vacuuming is the surest way to remove head lice and fallen hairs with nits contracted from furniture, car seats, rugs, and stuffed animals. Moreover, stay away from lice sprays!
When checking for lice, here are important things to look for:
- Nits or lice eggs - these appear as yellowish, brown, or tan spots before they hatch. Most often, lice lay their eggs on the hair shafts near your scalp, where its temperature is ideal for keeping them warm until they hatch. Nits look like dandruff, but can’t be eliminated by brushing or shaking.
- Adult Lice - they aren’t bigger than sesame seeds and are greyish-white in color. Nymphs are quite smaller and mature within 14 days after they’re hatched. If head lice go untreated for a long time, the process repeats itself after 21 days. Lice feed on blood several times each day, and they can live up to two days off your scalp.
Symptoms of Head Lice
- Scratching - with head lice bites, come scratching, itching, and irritation. This is actually due to the skin’s reaction to the saliva produced by lice. Nevertheless, the itching might not always start immediately but it depends on the child’s sensitivity to the lice.
- Small red bumps - for some children, the irritation isn’t intense; for others, severe rashes may develop. Intense scratching can cause bacterial infection. If your doctor suspects that you have developed such a problem, he or she might treat the infection with antibiotic drugs.
- Nits on the hair shafts - lice eggs or nits attach themselves on hair shafts. Hatching nits might be difficult to notice due to its tiny size and camouflaging mechanism to match your hair’s color. However, they are easily spotted around the neck or ears. Empty nits might even be easier to see since they are lighter in color and far from the scalp. Remember, nits don’t necessarily indicate the presence of an active infestation.