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Head Lice FAQ's

 

What are head lice?
Pediculus Human us Capitis, or head lice as they are more commonly known, are tiny parasitic insects that feed off human blood and develop on your scalp. Having head lice is very common, in fact 6-12 million people get head lice every year.

Who can get head lice?
No one is immune to head lice; anyone who is exposed to someone who already has the parasite is at greatest risk. Pre-school and elementary age school children, 3-11, and their families are typically the most at risk. Girls get head lice more often than boys, women more than men. Head lice can be transferred in clothing such as hats, scarves, and coats and personal items like hairbrushes and towels.

Isn’t it true only dirty people get head lice?
This is a common misconception, in fact personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school have nothing to do with getting head lice.

What are the signs and symptoms of head lice?
-Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair and on the head
-Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the bites.
-Irritability.
-Sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected

Where are head lice most commonly found?
On the scalp behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck, Head lice hold on to hair with hook-like claws found at the end of each of their six legs. Head lice are rarely found on the body, eyelashes, or eyebrows.

How do I know if my child or I have head lice?
Head lice are often difficult to find.  An infestation is diagnosed by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs, or adults. Finding a nymph or adult may be challenging; there are usually few of them and they can move quickly from searching fingers.

If crawling lice are not seen, finding nits within a 1/4 inch of the scalp confirms that a person is infested and should be treated.

If you only find nits more than 1/4 inch from the scalp (and don't see a nymph or adult louse), the infestation is probably an old one and does not need to be treated.

If you are not sure if a person has head lice, the diagnosis should be made by your health care provider, school nurse, or a licensed professional.


Symptoms such as an itchy scalp, eczema, dandruff, or allergic reactions to hair products are sometimes misdiagnose as lice.  

A positive diagnosis of an active case of head lice can only be made if you find live lice. Nits can remain on the hair for months but do not indicate an active infestation.

 What do head lice look like? louse pic
There are three forms of lice: the egg (also called a nit), the nymph, and the adult.

Nit: Nits are head lice eggs. They are hard to see and are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. Nits are found firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval and usually yellow to white. Nits take about 1 week to hatch.

Nymph: The nit hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult head louse, but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about 7 days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.

Adult: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white. In persons with dark hair, the adult louse will look darker. Females lay nits; they are usually larger than males. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person's head. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If
the louse falls off a person, it dies within 2 days.

lice cycle

 

How to check for head lice
To check your child for head lice, follow these steps:

  1. Start at the back of the nape and work your way up the head, ensuring that you comb through your child's hair in small sections using a fine-tooth comb.
  2. Before starting they next section check the comb. 
  3. You can use a paper or cotton towels to wipe and inspect the comb
  4. if you have a lamb with a magnifier even better
  5. use a magnifying glass
  6. Only use one comb per person

Notes to remember

  1. Dandruff and dry scalp are often mistaken for lice so make sure the room is well light and use a magnifying glass or similar tool. 
  2. Remember nits are glued on and are more challenging to remove than the dry scalp debris.
  3. That is why after an infestation their may be eggs or nits as they are often referred to. 
  4. These nits or old infestations can be misdiagnosed.
  5. Do it where you have lots of natural light, preferably outside or typically kitchen or bathroom, but you must have lots of light.
  6. Live lice will move quickly away from the light, they will be hard to see, you must check carefully. 
  7. The full grown adult louse may only be as large as a sesame seed. 
  8. Sometimes they are brown or grayish in color. 
  9. They like to hold on the hair shaft and lay eggs about ¼” from the scalp. 
  10. Their prime areas are the nape and behind the ears
  11. Lice have been found on eye lashes and eye brows. 
  12. The eggs are laid on the host hair shaft and attached with an bio adhesive that is engineered not to be removed easily.

 

Treatment for head lice

Past solutions included: comb them out,  shave your head, use OTC chemicals, use Kerosene or gasoline based products, products containing 1% permethrin but I would consider my options before forgoing any of these treatments.

Today, chemical treatments for head lice are available and can be found at your local drug or discount store.

Most of these products contain 1% permethrin as a cream rinse, which has proven to be a very effective treatment for head lice.

Although head lice treatments also are available by prescription, they are not usually the first choice for treating head lice.

These are some of the counter medication available today:

Lindane 1% Formerly, Kwell; now, marketed 1 application Day 0, day 7, and once within Neurotoxicity
as Lindane shampoo days 13 to 15a
Days 0 and 9b
FDA black-box warning: not to be
used in patients with psoriasis,
atopic dermatitis, or those
_110 lb
Second-line therapy
No more than 1 application
Pregnancy category: C

Permethrin 1% Nix Day 0, then repeat in 7 d if
evidence of active infestation
Day 0, day 7, and once within
days 13–15a
Pregnancy category: B
Days 0 and 9b

 

Pyrethrins 0.33% plus Piperonyl butoxide
Pronto Plus, Rid, A-200 Day 0, then 7 to 10 d later Day 0, day 7, and once within
days 13–15a
May cause asthma attack if
allergic to ragweed
4% Days 0 and 9b Pregnancy category: B

Malathion 0.5% Ovide Day 0, then 7 to 9 d later if Days 0 and 7a,b Flammable when hair is wet
evidence of active infestation Pregnancy category: B

In general, there are 3 steps in treating head lice. Because it is possible for head lice to show resistance to these treatments, see your pediatrician if you have followed these steps but your child still has live lice.

 

Step 1: Kill the lice.

Old School:
Head lice treatments come in a variety of forms such as shampoo, cream rinse, gel, and mousse.

    1. Most need to be applied to dry hair because wet hair can dilute the chemicals in the treatment.
    2. Keep the treatment on the hair for the full amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.
    3. While lice treatments are effective at killing live lice, they may not always kill all of the eggs.
    4. For this reason, a second treatment is usually necessary 7 to 10 days after the first treatment.
    5. But you are not getting to the root of the problem with these pesticides.
    6. The eggs or nits as they are called. 
    7. The American Journal of pediatrics reported that the nit has a 4 day window in starting its oval reproduction thus the 8-12 day lice cycle. 
    8. So its not about removing the nit but about destroying the nit. 
    9. You can always remove the nits after destroying them. 
    10. Nits can be combed out after the treatment has been applied to the hair.
    11. Many products include a special comb.
    12. Combing out the nits often takes a great deal of time and patience.
    13. During this step you may want to give your child something to do, such as a book to read. 
    14. But this step is not necessary to prevent lice from spreading; however, it may make you and your child feel better knowing the nits are removed.
    15. It may also prevent your child from being misdiagnosed with an active case of head lice.
    16. Carefully read the directions that come with the treatment for proper combing instructions. 
    17. Continue to check your child's hair daily for 2 weeks after treatment.
    18. If you still see nits in your child's hair, use a fine-tooth comb (or try using your fingernail) to remove them.
Conclusion: 14 Days of combing is not a reasonable expectation.
 
Today we have the facts in from every one and you can eliminate all of this by using Lice Safe.
 
One Application when done by a Head Lice Hero.

Step 2: Prevent lice from spreading.

  1. You do not need to throw away any items belonging to your child, but you may want to follow these prevention tips
  2. Wash your child's clothes, towels, hats, and bed linens in hot water and dry on high heat.
  3. Soak combs and brushes in boiling hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Vacuum furniture, carpeting, car seats, and other fabrics that your child was in contact with 24 to 48hours before treatment.
  5. Items that your child has been in very close contact with that cannot be washed, such as stuffed animals or toys, can be placed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks (by which time any live lice would die).
  6. Do not spray pesticides in your home because they can expose your family to dangerous chemicals.
  7. Check other members of your household for lice and, if present, treat these persons and manage their personal items as outlined previously.
  8. Remember that live lice cannot live more than 24 to 48 hours off the head, so extraordinary cleaning measures are usually not necessary. It is better to spend the time properly treating the child with head lice.

Step 3: Communicate with others THE Most Important thing to do!

  1. We understand that this may be an embarrassing time for you and your family, but not talking about it could lead to re-infection. 
  2. Lice are spread by close contact that means the adolescents girl friend/ boy friend, at sleep over parties, play dates all could have been places and people you need to communicate with about your experience so they can check to make sure they are not current carriers. 
  3. Other causes that you have less control over include air planes and movie theaters. 
  4. When in doubt use lice safe defender 2oz security check point safe.

Home remedies

You may have heard of home remedies that involve "washing" your child's hair with thick or oily substances such as petroleum jelly, mayonnaise, tub margarine, herbal oils, or olive oil and leaving it on the hair overnight (the child sleeps wearing a shower cap). The theory is that coating the hair with these substances will smother the lice. These remedies have not been scientifically proven to work. However, they certainly won't hurt your child.

Home treatments that should be avoided include coating your child's hair with any toxic or highly flammable substances such as gasoline or kerosene, or using products that are intended for use on animals.

Remember

While having head lice may be embarrassing to you or your child, it does not put your child at risk for any serious health problems. If your child has head lice, work quickly to treat the condition and prevent the lice
from spreading. You may need to repeat the treatment to ensure all the lice are gone.
If you are unsure about how to detect head lice, suspect your child has lice, have tried to treat a case of
head lice only to have them return, or have additional questions about treating head lice, call your pediatrician.
Reference:  American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, www.pediatricanapproved.com,

Dr. Pollack on the Harvard web page: "It would be an error to extrapolate from data of such an informal test; therefore, we do not recommend the use of olive oil (or other such substances) as a treatment for head
lice.”

The use of mayonnaise appears to give people a sense of hopefulness and encouragement that they can manage head lice without pesticides. 

What about Vaseline? Attempts to smother lice on the head are largely unsuccessful and parents then have the additional problem of removing Vaseline from the hair (a difficult task to say the least) as well as removing the lice and nits.

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