What Are Head Lice And Nits?
Head lice, medically known as Pediculosis capitis, are parasitic insects that live on the human scalp. They have six legs with claws designed to grasp onto the hair shaft. (See Lice Image.) Head lice vary in color from light to dark brown. After a blood meal, they're dark brown. However, as the blood digests, the color continues to lighten. Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed.
Head lice develop in three stages: nit, nymph, and adult louse. The adult female louse lays about six to ten eggs each day. Nits are the oval-shaped lice eggs that the female louse lays. Nits can be lighter or darker shades of brown or gray in color, and they are cemented to the hair shaft. Nits hatch into a nymph or baby louse within one week. A week later, the nymph becomes an adult louse.
Head lice feed on human blood which results in severe itching. Head lice is very common among school children. By checking your child's head every couple of weeks, you will help prevent the headache of a lice infestation in your home.
How To Get Rid Of Head Lice And Nits
As with many of life's challenges, when it comes to treating head lice, you basically have two options. You can try to tackle the lice on your own, or you can opt to call in professional help to get rid of your lice.
Each option has its pros and cons. Getting rid of the lice yourself will save you money, assuming that you have the time and patience to do the job correctly. Calling a professional lice treatment service can get things under control quickly. It is more expensive, but it can give you the peace of mind that you need.
If you choose to get rid of the lice on your own, do your research regarding which lice products to use. The lice shampoos at your local pharmacy likely contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your child. Look for all-natural products when treating head lice.
In addition to getting rid of the lice, you also need to get rid of the nits (lice eggs). It is important to remember that lice shampoo does not kill the lice eggs. Get rid of the lice eggs by combing them out with a fine-tooth lice comb. The nits will quickly hatch if not removed, and you will be back to square one. It is very easy to miss a few nits when you do a comb through. It is therefore very important to re-check your child frequently to make sure that the infestation doesn't start all over again. The quality of the products that you use will have a direct effect on how quickly you get rid of head lice.
If you choose to go with a lice removal service, know your options. For the most convenience, you can call lice clinicians to come directly to your home. Another option is to go to a "lice treatment center" where a clinician will treat your head lice. Going to a lice treatment center is more cost effective. Either way, you want to hire someone who has been successfully treating thousands of children annually. You want a service that provides clinicians who are friendly, knowledgeable, and insured. Many new lice treatment companies have been popping up in recent years. Don't compromise on your child's safety to save a few dollars.
Get Your Life Back!
A head lice infestation can take over your life! It is quite common for parents to spend hours treating head lice without solving the problem. No matter how hard or long they work at it, the lice just keep coming back. You can avoid this. Get rid of lice by following these simple guidelines.
Do the correct treatment the first time. You need lice products that work, and you need to know the correct method for lice removal. If you use the right lice products and the right method, you can get rid of lice quickly.
There is no need to turn your house upside down. Simply follow these instructions.
- Wash the linen of anyone who has lice. The rest of the linen in the house does not need to be washed unless someone with live lice sat on the bed.
- Wash all bath towels and articles of clothing that may have come in contact with head lice. Things that cannot go in the washing machine should be placed in a bag for 2 weeks. The lice and nits will not survive beyond that.
- Vacuum the furniture. Whatever furniture cannot be vacuumed should be sprayed with Licenders Household Enzyme Spray. This will help to ensure that the lice will not spread to other family members.
Do a thorough comb-out of the lice on the first night. Then do 20 minutes of combing each night to get out the nits.
Wet the hair, and apply 1-2 ounces of lice shampoo. Work up a good lather. Get the shampoo all over the scalp in order to get rid of all the lice. Do the combing while the lice shampoo is still in the hair. Even though you are using the lice shampoo, you still need to comb out all of the nits. Lice shampoos do not kill the nits which are protected by their shell. If you leave the nits behind, they will quickly hatch, and you will have lice all over again.
Licenders Oil Treatment will prevent the lice from laying any more eggs. This provides additional protection, just in case the shampoo did not come in contact with all the lice. Before going to sleep, spray the hair a few times with the oil, and massage it into the scalp. You do not have to saturate the hair with the oil. Leave the oil in the hair overnight. If you don't want to get any oil on the bed linen, you can put a towel underneath your child's head.
In the future, get in the habit of checking for lice every two weeks. Prevention is always the best way to go. That is why we do lice screening in the schools four times a year. This way, the school never has a chance to develop a lice infestation.
When Can My Child Go Back To School?
Every school has their own head lice policy. Some schools allow children to return immediately following lice treatment with a lice shampoo. Other school districts have adopted a no-nits policy, which means that children may only return to school after all the lice and nits, including dead nits, have been removed. Checking with your school nurse can prevent the child from being sent back home again and causing needless embarrassment to your child. Children that are treated by Licenders are allowed back in school immediately after lice treatment in most cases.
Where do Head Lice Come From?
I want to remove the stigma here about head lice. As a professional head lice company with lice treatment centers in New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey we've dealt with tens of thousands of head lice cases. Please read what I am about to say and take it to heart so that you can stop judging yourself about having head lice. I know the very real emotional pain that comes from the embarrassment that people feel when they find out that their child has contracted head lice. I want to empower you with some facts about lice.
Head lice don't come from dirt. They don't suddenly grow from the scalp. You didn't get it from your pet or any other animal. Head lice come from other head lice, just like any other species on this planet. It's that simple. The lice migrate from head to head so that they can find a blood meal. Head lice have been around since the beginning of time. Dried up head lice and eggs have been found on Egyptian mummies.
Are you wondering why your child got head lice? Because children tend to play in close proximity to each other, it is easy for the lice to spread in playgroups, schools, camps, hair salons, slumber parties, clubs, and at the playground. Head lice come from head-to-head contact with an infested person or through contact with their personal belongings. I'm going to break this down.
Contact with an infested person- Your child's hair came into contact with another child's lice-infested hair. Since lice do not jump, hop, or fly, the only way for them to move is by crawling. The lice crawled over from that child's strand of hair to your child's hair. The louse uses its claws (see lice images below) to grasp onto the hair shaft.
Contact with the belongings of an infested person- The lice can be transported through an infested person's belongings. Your child may have had contact with a lice-infested item such as a comb, brush, towel, bed, couch, pillow, carpet, stuffed animal, hat, coat, sports uniform, helmet, or clothing. The lice crawled from the personal item to your child's hair.
And that is why your child now has head lice.
Don't feel guilty. Head lice affects everyone: rich and poor, young and old, male and female. A head lice infestation doesn't say anything at all about who you are as a person, homemaker, wife, mother, etc. or about your personal cleanliness standards. We've had really famous celebrities as our clients! Really, anyone can get head lice.
How Can I Be Sure The Lice Are Gone?
Part of the stress of having lice is not knowing when the lice are finally gone. Will you have to keep checking for lice in your child's hair forever? Fortunately, you will not! Follow these clear guidelines to be absolutely sure that those lice are completely wiped out.
A cluster of nits is defined as six or seven nits in one area. If you find a cluster of nits close to the scalp, that is an indication that your child may still have live lice on her head. Finding stray nits on the head is not an indication of live lice. Lice always lay the nits in clusters.
Freshly laid nits will be near the scalp. As the hair grows, the older nits move further from the scalp. If the nits you are finding are not near the scalp, that means they are old nits. Nits normally hatch in 7 to 10 days. Nits never take more than two weeks to hatch. If the nits didn't hatch after two weeks, they never will. Old nits are dead nits.
You can be certain that your child is lice free when you have not found any live lice or clusters of nits for two weeks.
What Are The Symptoms of Head Lice?
The most obvious sign of head lice is the presence of lice and nits on the head. Inspect your child's hair and scalp. Check for nits behind the ears, on the crown of the head, and at the nape of the neck. The following four symptoms may indicate a head lice infestation:
- Itching - Itching is usually the first sign that lice may be present. It is also the most common lice symptom. Children may be itching only slightly more than usual or you may notice vigorous and frequent itching.
- Red Sores on Scalp - Sometimes, small red sores form on the scalp due to scratching after being bitten by the louse.
- Tickling feeling in hair - Your child may complain that someone is "tickling him on his hair." This is the louse crawling around.
As A School Administrator, How Can I Prevent A Head Lice Outbreak?
Keeping lice out of school requires the joint effort of the school and home. Prevent a head lice infestation by taking the following preventative measures:
- Call Licenders to schedule routine lice screenings in your school. By screening every student a few times a year you can avoid serious lice infestation in your school. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- Use a proactive educational program to provide a basic understanding of head lice, modes of transmission, prevention techniques, and the importance of safe and effective treatment.
- Early detection for head lice and nits plays a pivotal role in head lice management. Instruct parents to examine their children for head lice frequently.
- Assign individual cubbies to store hats and scarves separately, and wall hooks to store coats. Audio headsets and helmets should be cleaned with a damp cloth after each use.
- Frequently vacuum carpeted or upholstered areas, and wipe down mats with a damp cloth.
- Bus drivers should wipe down school bus seats with a damp cloth or vacuum upholstered seats.
I am a Camp Administrator. How Can I Prevent A Head Lice Infestation In My Camp This Summer?
Licenders has initiated a "keep lice out of camp" or "K.L.O.O.C." campaign. The K.L.O.O.C. initiative offers camps FREE head lice screenings at our lice treatment centers in NY, CT, NJ or LI up to 5 days before camp-start date. Multiple clinicians will be available at the salon to move things along quickly. All campers with a Licenders 'lice-free' note can go straight to their bunks! KLOOC for $100 and get the option to hire Licenders for half price to come to your camp and screen the 'out of town' staff and campers.
How To Tell the Difference Between Head Lice and Dandruff
Head lice are parasites that live on the human head. Their bites cause an itchy scalp. Dandruff, a skin condition, causes flaking of the skin and a slightly itchy scalp. Many people are confused about the difference between head lice and dandruff. If they see something white on the scalp they immediately assume it is head lice. Slow down! It may just be dandruff. It's simple to tell the difference.
Lice vs Dandruff -- 4 simple ways to tell them apart:
- Removability- Dandruff brushes off the hair quickly and easily. Nits aren't easily removed or picked off. Nits are firmly attached to the hair. That's because the female louse glues the egg onto the hair shaft.
- Appearance- Nits are tiny and oval shaped. Their color can be lighter or darker shades of brown or gray. Dandruff is larger and really white in color. Also, while dandruff particles come in various sizes, nits are generally uniform in size.
- Location- Nits like warm spots on the scalp. They are commonly found close to the scalp at the nape of the neck and behind the ears. You'll find dandruff flakes all over the head as they don't have any particular preferences on the scalp.
- Itchiness- Dandruff are mildly itchy. Head lice and nits are really itchy. Think, "scratching the head with two hands" itchy!
A really easy way to determine if it is lice or dandruff is to use a nit comb. Wet the hair and start combing. If you see white flakes coming off easily then you just have dandruff. If you notice tiny oval shaped things in the hair that are not coming off easily then you probably have nits. If you have detected head lice, you will need to proceed with lice treatment.
If you still have any doubt, stop by our lice treatment centers for a quick screening just to be absolutely sure.
How Can I Nurture My Child During The Lice Treatment Process?
It is important to keep in mind that as hard as it is for an adult to endure the head lice treatment process, it is even harder for a young child. The child is required to sit for long periods of time facing head down. This is an unnatural position for a child. Also, the shampooing and combing steps are physically uncomfortable. Consider purchasing some books on tape for the child to listen to. DVDs, videos, handheld games, and any other distraction will help the time pass. Always allow the child to take a break when he needs some relaxation time. Finally, use this time as a way to bond. You will be building memories from this experience. Make them positive ones.