Head lice: what they look like and how to treat them

Photo of a woman checking her daughter's hair for lice

In case your youngster is scratching his head, neck, and ears, he could also be contaminated Head lice. Though lice aren’t dangerous, lice is usually a long-term — and infrequently embarrassing — pest. Learn on to learn to examine for, deal with and forestall head lice.

Head lice are quite common 6 to 12 million youngsters are handled for head lice In america annually, lice are notably prevalent amongst school-age youngsters and their households and caregivers,” says Michael Turco, MD, Clarkson Household Drugs resident.

What’s head lice and the way does it unfold?

Head lice are small, wingless bugs that reside on hair and feed on human blood. Their bites can irritate the scalp and, in some instances, result in persistent scratching. They unfold largely by direct face-to-face contact and fewer ceaselessly by sharing private objects, corresponding to:

  • hats and scarves
  • Brushes and hair equipment
  • headphones
  • Pillows and towels

“There is a false impression {that a} lice infestation is brought on by poor hygiene practices, however head lice are discovered on all varieties of hair—whether or not it is lengthy or quick, clear or soiled,” says Dr. Turco. “Nevertheless, lice could also be harder to detect amongst individuals with lengthy hair.”

What are the indicators and signs of head lice?

Widespread signs of head lice embrace:

  1. itchy The commonest signal of head lice is: keen Within the scalp, neck and ears on account of irritation from louse bites.
  2. The looks of lice or lice eggs on the scalp Lice are sometimes troublesome to detect resulting from their small dimension. Lice eggs, additionally known as nits, follow the hair shafts and might also be troublesome to see, however you might be able to spot them close to the ears and hairline.
  3. Sores Extended scratching can result in small crimson bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders that will turn out to be contaminated.

How do I examine my youngster for head lice?

The easiest way to examine your youngster for head lice is to make use of a fine-tooth comb on moist hair. A magnifying glass and vibrant mild can even assist. After making use of a beneficiant quantity of conditioner, gently comb by the hair in small sections, on the lookout for small specks on the comb. Be sure to comb your entire scalp twice. The grownup louse and the creating louse are usually grayish-white to brown in shade and vary in dimension from the top of a pin to a sesame seed. As a result of they’re so small, lice can simply be mistaken for nits and different issues, corresponding to dandruff or leftover hair merchandise. To identify the distinction, gently drag a spot. If it stays on the hair, you can have nits current. If it peels off simply, it is possible one thing else.

“In case you suspect head lice, it is a good suggestion to see a health care provider to make sure,” says Dr. Turco. “Simply since you’ve discovered nits would not essentially imply there’s an infestation—grownup lice should be current with an lively infestation.”

Do youngsters want to remain dwelling from faculty if they’ve lice?

Usually, a baby with head lice can keep in school till the top of the day, go dwelling and get therapy, after which return to high school the following day. Whereas in class, they need to keep away from direct contact with different college students. In case your youngster has lengthy hair, you might also wish to have him pull it again to maintain it contained. You probably have questions on when it’s secure to return, examine along with your kid’s faculty about attendance pointers.

How is head lice handled?
The 2 primary methods to deal with head lice are:

  1. drugs Many over-the-counter and prescription shampoos, rinses, and lotions are designed to kill head lice. No matter the kind of medicine, it is very important comply with the instructions rigorously. Extreme or frequent use might be dangerous or annoying, however too little will do no good. As well as, some therapies are solely secure for these two years of age or older.
  2. eliminated by hand Eradicating lice and nits by hand might be useful if you happen to do not wish to use an insecticide or medicine. To do that, use a fine-tooth comb on damp, damp hair each three to 4 days for 3 weeks. Moisturizing the hair stops the motion of lice, and the conditioner makes it simpler to comb the hair. Proceed combing till no lice are seen. This will likely take about 15 to 60 minutes, relying on the size of the hair.

If the above choices do not work and also you wish to discover different therapies, it is best to speak to your physician first.

“Residence cures like Vaseline, mayonnaise, and olive oil have historically been used to suffocate head lice, however there is no such thing as a proof to indicate that they’re actually efficient,” says Dr. Turco. “Tea tree oil is one other dwelling treatment that individuals typically consider, however like most dwelling cures, there is no such thing as a good proof to assist it. Plus, it might probably irritate little scalps, so we don’t advocate it. Over-the-counter lice therapies or Prescription drugs are only at killing reside lice and eliminating the eggs as soon as an infestation has occurred.”

How can I forestall the unfold of head lice?

To eliminate head lice and forestall their unfold:

  1. Look at anybody in your loved ones who has had shut contact with somebody who has head lice.
  2. Deal with anybody who has head lice straight away, so they do not unfold them additional.
  3. Soak private objects like hair equipment in scorching water or throw them away and discourage your loved ones from sharing them.
  4. Wash all mattress linens, stuffed animals, and clothes utilized by the contaminated particular person through the two days previous to therapy in scorching water, then place them within the dryer for at the very least 20 minutes.
  5. Dry garments that can’t be washed at dwelling or positioned in hermetic luggage for 2 weeks to kill any lice.
  6. Vacuum the carpets and upholstered furnishings in your house or automotive, then get rid of the vacuum cleaner bag.

Coping with head lice might be irritating. In case you suspect that you just or somebody in your loved ones has lice, it’s a good suggestion to seek the advice of a health care provider, both in individual or by Telehealth go to. Our telehealth choices Connects you to a health care provider who can clarify tips on how to comb out lice and select the correct therapy. In case you attempt to deal with lice and discover that you just nonetheless have an infestation, chances are you’ll wish to schedule an in-person appointment.

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