Head louse is a common problem, especially for children. Approx. 6 to 12 million children in the U.S. get head lice each year. Young lice are clear, but on feeding human blood they become reddish brown to black. They’re contagious, annoying, and sometimes tough to get rid of.
How do you get head lice?
Head lice don’t have wings so they can’t fly or jump. They can crawl. They spread from one person to another after close contact. Sharing hair brushes, combs, scarves and hats are few of the common sources of spreading lice from one person to another. However, the most likely way lice spread is the head-to-head contact of children while playing.
How to know whether your child has head lice?
Your child may experience one or more of these symptoms:
- A tickling or itchy feeling on the scalp.
- Continuous sensation of something moving in the hair.
- Severe wounds on the scalp caused by scratching.
- Trouble in sleeping as lice are more active in the dark.
Moreover, if you look closely, you may see the live lice, but not always. You can also find the tiny yellowish-white oval nits stuck to the hair shaft and may appear like dandruff. Unlike dandruff, nits are not flaky and can be easily removed from the hair. You can find nits more often at the back of the head, just above the neck, or behind the ears.
How to treat head lice?
You can treat lice with following ways:
- You can use OTC lice products containing pyrethrins (RID) or permethrin 1% (NIX) to treat head lice. Make sure to use these products as directed.
- Check the hair in one inch segment properly for nits and lice. You can also use a fine tooth lice comb to remove remaining nits and lice.
- Ensure not to use chemicals such as kerosene, alcohol, and gasoline etc. Natural oils like tea tree oil or ylangylang oil may lead to some side effects, must be avoided. It’s not sure that home remedies like olive oil and mayonnaise will help you or not. You can try electronic combs or Cetaphil to remove lice, but make sure to use them as recommended.
- If you still see lice post treatment, contact your child’s health care provider. They may prescribe you some prescription lice treatments.
How to keep your kids lice free?
- Make sure to wash your kid’s clothes, towels, and beddings properly used in the last two days. Use hot water (130 degrees F) to wash clothes and/or dry them in a hot dryer for minimum 20 minutes.
- Soak or dip combs and brushes in hot water boiled at least 130 degrees F for approx. 5-10 minutes.
- For items that can’t be washed you can put them in the dryer, vacuum them, or put them in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks.
- Carefully check your child’s hair for several days after treatment. Continue to check their hair every now and again. The sooner you know your child has lice, the easier it is to treat it and keep it from spreading.