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 discover ways to test 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 Medication resident.

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

Head lice are small, wingless bugs that stay 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 way of direct face-to-face contact and fewer steadily by way of sharing private objects, equivalent to:

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

“There is a false impression {that a} lice infestation is attributable to 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. “Nonetheless, lice could also be tougher to detect amongst individuals with lengthy hair.”

What are the indicators and signs of head lice?

Frequent signs of head lice embody:

  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 tough to detect because of their small measurement. Lice eggs, additionally referred to as nits, keep on with the hair shafts and can also be tough to see, however you could possibly spot them close to the ears and hairline.
  3. Sores Extended scratching can result in small purple bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders that will develop into contaminated.

How do I test my youngster for head lice?

One of the simplest ways to test your youngster for head lice is to make use of a fine-tooth comb on moist hair. A magnifying glass and brilliant gentle also can assist. After making use of a beneficiant quantity of conditioner, gently comb by way of the hair in small sections, on the lookout for small specks on the comb. Be certain to comb your entire scalp twice. The grownup louse and the growing louse are usually grayish-white to brown in colour and vary in measurement 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, equivalent to dandruff or leftover hair merchandise. To identify the distinction, gently drag a spot. If it stays on the hair, you would have nits current. If it peels off simply, it is possible one thing else.

“For those who suspect head lice, it is a good suggestion to see a physician to make certain,” says Dr. Turco. “Simply since you’ve discovered nits would not essentially imply there’s an infestation—grownup lice need to be current with an energetic infestation.”

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

Usually, a baby with head lice can keep in school till the tip of the day, go residence and get remedy, after which return to high school the subsequent 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 need to have him pull it again to maintain it contained. You probably have questions on when it’s secure to return, test 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. medication Many over-the-counter and prescription shampoos, rinses, and lotions are designed to kill head lice. No matter the kind of remedy, it is very important comply with the instructions rigorously. Extreme or frequent use will 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 will be helpful in case you do not need to use an insecticide or remedy. 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 need to discover different therapies, it is best to speak to your physician first.

“Residence treatments 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 residence treatment that folks usually consider, however like most residence treatments, there is no such thing as a good proof to help it. Plus, it will probably irritate little scalps, so we don’t suggest it. Over-the-counter lice therapies or Prescription drugs are handiest at killing stay lice and eliminating the eggs as soon as an infestation has occurred.”

How can I stop 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 throughout the two days previous to remedy in scorching water, then place them within the dryer for at the very least 20 minutes.
  5. Dry garments that can not be washed at residence or positioned in hermetic baggage for 2 weeks to kill any lice.
  6. Vacuum the carpets and upholstered furnishings in your house or automotive, then eliminate the vacuum cleaner bag.

Coping with head lice will be irritating. For those who suspect that you just or somebody in your loved ones has lice, it’s a good suggestion to seek the advice of a physician, both in individual or by way of Telehealth go to. Our telehealth choices Connects you to a physician who can clarify the best way to comb out lice and select the suitable remedy. For those who attempt to deal with lice and discover that you just nonetheless have an infestation, chances are you’ll need to schedule an in-person appointment.

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