What is lice?
You feel a tiny tickle, an itchy bump. Might that be lice? Well, the very thought can make you itch! Head lice, pubic lice (‘crabs’) and body lice are parasites that nobody likes to invade. These creepy crawlers are as old as human beings, and they’re not too picky on who they want. There are three kinds of pulses that feed on human blood. Each of them is known by the part of the body they infest: head lice, pubic lice, and body lice. Head and pubic lice use skin and hair as their breeding sites, while body lice live in tissues. Lice doesn’t jump or fly—they crawl.
Lice has three stages of life: nit (egg), nymph (baby lice) and adult. Nits take anywhere from 5 to 10 days to nymphs, depending on the weather. The warmer the temperature, the faster they’re going to hatch. The head and body of the lice have a segmented body and six wings. Nits are tiny, light-colored deposits attached to hair for head and pubic lice, and to fabric for body lice. Eggs will not move when they are nudged with a finger, but can be removed with a special fine-toothed comb.
Head lice thrive from your eyebrows to the nape of your neck. You’re going to have them from direct touch with someone who already has them. You may also get them by proximity to an object that has recently come in contact with the head of an infected person, such as a hairbrush or a pillow.
If you notice a cluster of itchy dots on your scalp, it could be head lice. They bite everywhere they eat on the head, but they are especially fond of the back of the head and the area behind the ears, since this is a warmer area of the scalp. They sometimes present as tiny reddish or pink bumps, often with crusted blood.
You should keep a variety of things in mind when dealing with lice. Since lice can only crawl and live outside your head for 24 hours, most of the infestations come from direct head-to-head contact. When someone you know has lice, they’re likely to catch it from an acquaintance, family member, or stranger they’ve been in direct contact with. Shared objects, such as hats or brushes, may also encourage infestation.
How do head lice spread?
Lice doesn’t have wings, but they all crawl and they can be surprisingly fast. Here’s an explanation of how lice spread—and what you should do to protect it. Head lice spread by direct contact with the hair of the infected person. Kids are going to hug each other and practically bring their heads together. You can’t keep this from happening absolutely, nor do many parents wish to.
But be careful of any child who regularly scratches his head or complains of itching head, and follow up with the school nurse or the parents of the child. Head lice can also be transmitted by indirect communication with the personal objects used by the individual concerned:
- Hats, scarves, goggles, and caps should not be exchanged. And joint lockers or coat racks will contain head lice.
- Make sure your child has their own comb or brush.
- Make sure your child uses their own hair ties, and hair pins and doesn’t borrow from other children.
- If your child is involved in a sport, make sure they have their own gear. At the pool or gym, make sure your child has their own towels and other personal items.
Symptoms of Head Lice
A few symptoms of head lice can be visible right away, particularly if your child does not usually have the following problems:
- Excessive or abnormal itchiness on the scalp
- Head scratching
- Complaints of tickling sensations on the scalp
- Irritation on the scalp from scratching
- Tan dots on the shaft of the hair strands, which may be lice eggs (or nits)
You do not notice the signs of head lice at once. Head scratches are not rare for infants, and some signs can take weeks to develop. Head scratches and small white specks in the hair may also be signs of dandruff. Dandruff is a disease in which dead skin cells flake off the scalp. But if your child rubs the scalp, and the specks don’t come off his hair, you might see the nits.
As soon as you notice these signs, clean your child’s hair with a razor, magnifying glass, and bright light to detect and recognise any nits or adult lice. Although the nits appear like tiny spots, the adult lice are around the size of a small seed and typically tan or grey.
How to Treat Lice
If you or your child has lice, you want a remedy that works easily. There are several guidelines for controlling these parasites:
If the infestation is moderate, you should treat it with over-the-counter medication at home by doing the following:
- Handle your child’s dry hair with a special liquid medicine called a pediculicide. Make your child put on clean clothes until the procedure is done.
- Wait for 8-12 hours to see if the lice and nits have been killed
- Use a nit comb to get all the dead eggs and lice out of the hair.
After the infestation has stopped
- Check your child’s hair every couple of days to make sure that no lice lived to lay more larvae.
- Wet your child’s hair and comb through all of it from the scalp to the end of each hair segment. Using the conditioner and nit comb to extract any lingering dead eggs
If your child has long hair, you can need at least two bottles of lice cream. You would most likely continue to use the drug several times before the nits and lice are effectively treated.
If you still see lice running around, try again and wait and see if the second treatment is successful. If you ever see live lice, see your child’s doctor, particularly if you have a variety of over-the-counter treatments. They will tell you about prescription drugs like benzyl alcohol or malathion.
Wet-combing is a popular way to eliminate lice from the scalp. The technique has advantages such as making lice more noticeable, separating them from dandruff and being affordable. Wet-combing involves spraying a conditioner on wet hair fibres, using a fine-toothed comb and, in some cases, a magnifying glass to clearly inspect each strand of hair and extract the individual lice.
While the wet-combing approach can be successful, it is also time-consuming and takes some patience to complete. If you try, give enough time to consider any entertainment opportunities for your child beforehand.
Smother the lice
Here are some of the natural “suffocating” or “smothering” remedies that perform very well. They’re running well if you follow the directions. It is important to remember that some researchers agree that it is only the combining that does the job—the “suffocating” remedies merely stun the lice and make them sluggish and easier to capture on the comb
To use this procedure, first coat your hair with olive or almond oil. (Vaseline and mayonnaise are not recommended—they are needlessly sticky, and both can be difficult to wash.) Some people consider coating the comb instead of the hair—re-applying the oil if appropriate. You would have to use both approaches to see which one is better for you. Separate your hair into tiny pieces while you work, and use a hair clip to move it out of the way. Do this in a good light, so you can see what you’re doing. Rinse the comb sometimes under hot running spray.
When your child’s hair has been thoroughly combed, wash their hair with their daily shampoo, clean, and repeat. Then dry their hair. Make sure you wash all the towels you used and rinse the lice comb. Soak the comb in a 10% solution of bleach or 2 percent solution of lysol for 30 minutes, then clean thoroughly.
Treat the lice with essential oils
A variety of essential oils have been shown to be effective—along with combing—in the removal of head lice. Basic oils have never been consumed. In reality, some of them are poisonous. Until using some essential oil, always dilute it with the carrier oil and add a little drop of the diluted mixture on the back of your child’s palm. If there is no response, the essential oil should be safe to use. While very rare, some kids have allergic reactions to these oils—usually tea tree oil. If your child is allergic to one, switch to the next oil on the list. The oils that have been proven to be successful are:
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender oil
- Neem oil
- Clove oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Aniseed oil
- Cinnamon leaf oil
- Red thyme oil
- Peppermint oil
- Nutmeg oil
Mix two ounces of olive oil with 15 to 20 drops of the mineral oil. Using cotton balls to add this paste to the scalp. Keep it on your scalp and hair overnight—at least 12 hours. Combine with the shampoo, rinse and refresh.
An alternative solution is to blend 15 to 20 drops of essential oil in 4 ounces of alcohol. Place in a spray bottle and saturate the hair with it. Once again, keep it on for at least 12 hours. If the lice have been removed, the alcohol spray should be used as a prevention procedure. Remember—combing the hair is completely necessary to kill the lice and their eggs.
Clean around the house
Lice doesn’t live far from the scalp, and nits usually don’t hatch at room temperature. So leave the deep cleaning of the house for another day. But you may want to clean or wash anything that has been in close contact with the person who has lice, such as hats, pillowcases, brushes, or combs.
How to prevent the lice from spreading or from coming back?
It is not appropriate to spray your home and possessions with potentially harmful insecticides. Lice are “compulsory parasites,” which ensures that they don’t live for long without a human host. They die within 24 to 48 hours of their elimination. Once you have treated your child’s head and eliminated all the nits, there are some suggested follow-up measures
- The items such as any hats, scarves, coats, and gloves, should be washed in hot water and dried with heat for at least 20 minutes.
- Vacuum all chairs, sofas, headboards, and anything that may have come into contact with anyone’s head.
- Wash combs, brushes, and hair ties in a 10% bleach or 2% dettol solution for one hour. You should heat them in water as close to boiling as possible.
It is important to follow instructions closely and accurately when handling lice. Failure to follow guidelines for treatment of medications is one of the main causes of re-infestation.
While the FDA needs safety monitoring before any substance is approved, people have specific vulnerabilities that must be considered prior to any care. The NPA advises against the use of any chemicals used to kill or remove head lice in any person with a pre-existing illness.This would include, but is not limited to, people with asthma, epilepsy, neurological disorders, cancer or AIDS. Those on medications, or previously treated for head lice, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, may be more vulnerable to side effects and may prevent chemical lice remedies to be used on their own or to be applied to others.
Head lice may be spread if the head or hair is in close contact with an infested person. Lice may also be transmitted by the exchange of personal objects such as coats, blankets, brushes, helmets, hair bands, etc. It is also possible to distribute head lice via a towel, a headrest or related appliances.
Head lice do not have hind legs to hop or jump. They also do not have wings and cannot fly.
Head lice do not come out of the air or out of the grass. They are human parasites, and they have actually been here since the dawn of time. Dehydrated head lice and their eggs (nits) are discovered on the hair and scalps of Egyptian mummies.