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 could be a long-term — and infrequently embarrassing — pest. Learn on to learn to examine for, deal with and stop head lice.

Head lice are quite common 6 to 12 million kids are handled for head lice In the USA annually, lice are significantly prevalent amongst school-age kids 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 dwell on hair and feed on human blood. Their bites can irritate the scalp and, in some circumstances, result in persistent scratching. They unfold largely by direct face-to-face contact and fewer often by sharing private gadgets, 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 kinds 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 folks 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 tough to detect as a consequence of their small dimension. Lice eggs, additionally referred to as nits, persist with the hair shafts and may additionally be tough to see, however you might be able to spot them close to the ears and hairline.
  3. Sores Extended scratching can result in small pink bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders which will change into contaminated.

How do I examine my youngster for head lice?

One of the best ways to examine your youngster for head lice is to make use of a fine-tooth comb on moist hair. A magnifying glass and vibrant gentle may also 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. Ensure 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 might have nits current. If it peels off simply, it is probably one thing else.

“In the event you suspect head lice, it is a good suggestion to see a physician to make sure,” 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 lively infestation.”

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

Typically, a toddler with head lice can keep at college till the tip of the day, go dwelling and get therapy, after which return to highschool 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 may additionally wish to have him pull it again to maintain it contained. When you have questions on when it’s secure to return, examine together with your kid’s faculty about attendance pointers.

How is head lice handled?
The 2 essential 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 remedy, it is very important comply with the instructions fastidiously. Extreme or frequent use may be dangerous or annoying, however too little will do no good. As well as, some remedies are solely secure for these two years of age or older.
  2. eliminated by hand Eradicating lice and nits by hand may be helpful when you do not wish 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 may occasionally 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 remedies, it is best to speak to your physician first.

“House cures like Vaseline, mayonnaise, and olive oil have historically been used to suffocate head lice, however there isn’t a proof to indicate that they’re actually efficient,” says Dr. Turco. “Tea tree oil is one other dwelling treatment that individuals usually consider, however like most dwelling cures, there isn’t a good proof to help it. Plus, it will probably irritate little scalps, so we don’t advocate it. Over-the-counter lice remedies or Prescription drugs are best at killing dwell lice and eliminating the eggs as soon as an infestation has occurred.”

How can I forestall the unfold of head lice?

To do away with head lice and stop 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 gadgets 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 least 20 minutes.
  5. Dry garments that can not 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 automobile, then get rid of the vacuum cleaner bag.

Coping with head lice may be irritating. In the event you suspect that you simply or somebody in your loved ones has lice, it’s a good suggestion to seek the advice of a physician, both in particular person or by Telehealth go to. Our telehealth choices Connects you to a physician who can clarify comb out lice and select the appropriate therapy. In the event you attempt to deal with lice and discover that you simply nonetheless have an infestation, you could wish to schedule an in-person appointment.

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