The head louse is a small, wingless parasitic pest that lives among human hairs and feeds upon small quantities of blood drawn from the scalp. Lice (the plural of louse) are a very common issue, specifically for kids. They’re contagious, annoying, and often hard to get rid of.
But while they’re irritating to deal with, lice aren’t unsafe. They don’t spread disease, although their bites can make a child’s scalp itchy and inflamed, and scratching can lead to infection.
It’s best to treat head lice rapidly as soon as they’re found due to the fact that they can spread out quickly from individual to person.
The greatest issue today is that lice have actually ended up being resistant to the non-prescription stuff,” stated Anna Albano-Krosche, owner of the head lice elimination beauty salon, The Lice Lady of Westchester in Elmsford, N.Y.
Signs of Head Lice
Although they’re extremely little, lice can be seen by the naked eye. Here are things to search for:
Lice eggs (called nits). These appear like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. Lice lay nits on hair shafts near to the scalp, where the temperature level is perfect for keeping warm up until they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, just they can’t be eliminated by brushing or shaking them off.
Unless the problem is heavy, it’s more common to see nits in a child’s hair than it is to see live lice crawling on the scalp. Lice eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they’re laid. After hatching, the staying shell looks white or clear and stays securely attached to the hair shaft. This is when it’s simplest to spot them, as the hair is growing longer and the egg shell is moving far from the scalp.
Adult lice and nymphs (baby lice). The adult louse is no larger than a sesame seed and is grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller sized and become adult lice about 1 to 2 weeks after they hatch. If head lice is not dealt with, this procedure repeats itself about every 3 weeks. The majority of lice feed upon blood a number of times a day, and they can survive up to 2 days off the scalp.
Scratching. With lice bites come itching and scratching. This is really due to a response to the saliva of lice. However, the itching might not always start right now– that depends upon how sensitive a child’s skin is to the lice. It can sometimes take weeks for kids with lice to start scratching. They might grumble, however, of things moving around on or tickling their heads.
Small red bumps or sores from scratching. For some kids, the irritation is moderate; for others, a more bothersome rash may establish. Extreme scratching can result in a bacterial infection (this can cause swollen lymph glands and red, tender skin that may have crusting and oozing). If your doctor thinks this is the case, she or he may treat the infection with an oral antibiotic.
You may have the ability to see the lice or nits by parting your child’s hair into small areas and checking for lice and nits with a fine-tooth comb on the scalp, behind the ears, and around the neck of the neck (it’s rare for them to be found on eyelashes or eyebrows).
A magnifying glass and brilliant light may help. However it can be difficult to find a nymph or adult louse– frequently, there aren’t a number of them and they move quick.
See your doctor if your child is continuously scratching his or her head or experiences an itchy scalp that will not go away. The doctor ought to be able to inform you if your child is plagued with lice and has to be dealt with. Not all kids have the traditional symptoms of head lice and some can be symptom-free.
Also make certain to consult your child’s school nurse or childcare center director to see if other kids have actually recently been dealt with for lice. If you find that your child does, undoubtedly, have lice or nits, contact the personnel at the school and childcare center to let them understand. Discover what their return policy is. A lot of usually permit kids to return after one topical treatment has been completed.
Are Lice Contagious?
Lice are highly contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person, especially in group settings (like schools, child care centers, slumber celebrations, sports activities, and camps).
Though they can’t fly or leap, these tiny parasites have actually specially adjusted claws that let them crawl and stick strongly to hair. They spread primarily through head-to-head contact, however sharing clothes, bedding, combs, brushes, and hats likewise can pass them along. Kids are most prone to capturing lice due to the fact that they have the tendency to have close physical contact with each other and share individual products.
And you might wonder if Fido or Fluffy might be capturing the pests and passing them on to your family. But rest assured that family pets can’t catch head lice and pass them on to people or the other way around.
Your doctor can suggest a medicated hair shampoo, cream rinse, or lotion to kill the lice. These might be over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications, depending on what treatments have currently been tried. Medicated lice treatments usually kill the lice, but it might take a few days for the itching to stop. For extremely resistant lice, an oral medication (medication taken by mouth) may be prescribed.
Make certain that the medication is safe for your child’s age. While over-the-counter hair shampoos are safe for kids as young as 2 months, other medicines are only safe for kids 2 years and older. It’s important to follow the instructions precisely because these products are insecticides. Using excessive medication– or utilizing it too often– can increase the risk of damage. Follow the directions on the product label.
Treatment might be not successful if the medication is not used correctly or if the lice are resistant to it. After treatment, your doctor might recommend combing out the nits with a fine-tooth comb as well as might advise duplicating treatment in 7 to 10 days to kill any recently hatched nits.
Getting rid of By Hand
If your child is 2 months old or younger, you need to not use medicated lice treatments. You’ll need to eliminate the nits and lice by hand.
To remove lice and nits by hand, use a fine-tooth comb on your child’s wet, conditioned hair every 3 to 4 days for 3 weeks after the last live louse was seen. Moistening the hair in advance is suggested since it temporarily immobilizes the lice and the conditioner makes it much easier to obtain a comb through the hair.
There’s no have to purchase electronic combs that declare to kill lice or make nits easier to eliminate. No research studies have actually been done to support these claims. You likewise don’t need to purchase unique vinegar options to apply to the scalp before selecting nits. Good old-fashioned water works simply great.
Wet combing is likewise an alternative to pesticide treatments in older kids. Though petroleum jelly, mayo, or olive oil are sometimes used in an attempt to suffocate head lice, these treatments may not work. If medicine does not work and you want to try these methods, talk to your doctor first.
Make certain you eliminate nits carefully weekly for at least 3 weeks in a row, and enjoy your child closely to see if any live lice return.
Do Kids Need to Stay at home From School?
In the past, kids with head lice were kept home from school, now physicians not recommend these “no-nit” policies. For the most parts, a child who has lice needs to stay at school till completion of the day, go home and get treatment, and go back to school the next day. While they are at school, kids must prevent head-to-head contact with other kids.
Here are some easy methods to get rid of the lice and their eggs, and assist prevent a lice reinfestation:
- Wash all bedding and clothes that’s been recently used by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot water (130 ° F [54.4 ° C], then put them in the hot cycle of the clothes dryer for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Dry clean anything that can’t be cleaned (like packed animals). Or put them in airtight bags for a minimum of 3 days.
- Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (in your home or car), then discard the vacuum cleaner bag.
- Soak hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated hair shampoo for 1 hour. You also can clean them in hot water or just toss them away.
Since lice are easily passed from person to person in the same house, bedmates and plagued relative likewise will require treatment to prevent the lice from coming back.
In your efforts to get rid of the bugs, there are some things you should not do. Some do n’ts of head lice treatment include:
- Don’t use a hairdryer on your child’s hair after applying any of the currently readily available scalp treatments because some contain combustible components. A hair dryer could likewise cause live lice to blow into the air and spread to others nearby.
- Don’t use a conditioner or shampoo/conditioner combination before using lice medication.
- Don’t wash your child’s hair for 1 to 2 days after utilizing a medicated treatment.
- Don’t use sprays or employ a bug control company to attempt to get rid of the lice, as these treatments can be hazardous. Head lice don’t make it through long as soon as they fall off an individual, so you do not need to spend a great deal of time and money trying to rid the house of lice.
- Don’t use the exact same medication more than three times on someone. If it doesn’t seem to be working, your doctor might advise another medication.
- Don’t use more than one head lice medication at a time.
- Don’t use vital oils (such as ylang oil or tea tree oil) to treat lice on the scalp. These oils can cause allergic reactions on the scalp and have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also, there are no research studies to show whether such treatments in fact work.
- Don’t use chemicals such as gas or kerosene on the hair. These are highly flammable and should never be used to treat lice on anyone.
Tips to keep in mind
Having head lice is not a sign of dirtiness or bad hygiene. The pesky little bugs can be an issue for kids of any ages and socioeconomic levels, no matter how frequently they do– or don’t– wash their hair or shower. It also doesn’t matter for how long or short an individual’s hair is.
However, these pointers can help to prevent kids from getting lice (or from ending up being reinfested):
- Tell kids to try to avoid head-to-head contact at school (in gym, on the play ground, or during sports) and while playing at home with other children.
- Inform kids not to share combs, brushes, hats, scarves, bandanas, ribbons, barrettes, hair ties or bands, towels, helmets, or other individual care items with anybody else, whether they may have lice or not.
- Tell kids not to lie on bed linen, pillows, and carpets that have actually just recently been used by someone with lice.
- Every 3 or 4 days, examine members of your home who have had close contact with a person who has lice.
- Then, treat any who are discovered to have lice or nits near the scalp.
Will They Ever Be Gone?
As lots of parents know firsthand, lice problem can be a continuous fight, particularly in group settings. There’s no doubt that they can be hard bugs to obtain rid of.
If you have actually followed every recommendation and your child still has lice, it could be due to the fact that:
- some nits were left behind.
- your child is still being exposed to someone with lice.
- the treatment you’re using isn’t really reliable.
If your child still has lice 2 weeks after you started treatment or if your child’s scalp looks infected, call your doctor.
No matter the length of time the issue lasts, be sure to advise your child that although having lice can definitely be really awkward, anybody can get them. It is essential for kids to understand that they haven’t done anything wrong and that having lice does not make them unclean. And assure them that as discouraging as getting rid of the lice can be, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Be patient and follow the treatments and prevention tips as directed by your doctor, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your family lice-free.