head liceHead lice are still among the most widespread problems among schoolchildren in both developed and developing countries. Here is what you need to know about these critters and their peculiarities.
- 1 About the Species
- 2 Why Is Head Lice Dangerous?
- 3 Where Head Lice Come From?
- 4 Who Can Get Them?
- 5 What Does Head Lice Look Like?
- 6 Have Head Lice Got Wings?
- 7 Does Head Lice Look Like Dandruff?
- 8 A Few Words About Their Lifestyle
- 9 Lifecycle
- 10 Do Head Lice Live On Bedding?
- 11 Should You Scratch Head Lice?
- 12 Do Head Lice Bite Arms?
- 13 Signs of Head Lice
- 14 Can Dogs Get Head Lice?
- 15 Basics of Head Lice Removal
- 16 Will Haircut Help?
- 17 Treating Head Lice
- 18 Tea Tree Oil
- 19 Mayonnaise or Olive Oil
- 20 Special Shampoos
- 21 LouseBuster: Extermination Without Remedies
- 22 Electric combs
- 23 Protect Your Environment from Insects
About the Species
Head louse is a parasite that lives on human scalp and feeds by sucking blood. The small insects do not exist outside their hosts, e.g. they never live in the wild. They lay eggs and fix them on hairs with the help of special concrete-like substance emitted by females.
Why Is Head Lice Dangerous?
Where Head Lice Come From?
This bug is transferred between people only. It means that you can catch parasites after head-to-head touch with another person, or wearing his or her clothes, or using bed sheets where an affected person slept. These are the most common instances. Besides, in rare cases, a bug may fall from someone’s head and be eventually caught. Those living together with contaminated family members or visiting public places often are more prone to getting infested.
Who Can Get Them?
In fact, these insects may affect anybody regardless of age, sex, and complexion. Don’t be surprised – personal hygiene plays no role, as well. Parasites don’t mind living on clean scalp, and dirty hair would also be okay for them.
What Does Head Lice Look Like?
This is a small insect with oval-shaped body 3-5 mm long and six legs. As a rule, louse is white, and becomes dark-red after drinking blood. It cannot jump or run quickly – this is a slow bug that crawls only. Its eggs are2-3 mm long, and are tear-shaped. They are located on hair shafts closer to scalp, being stuck by a special substance produced by females. Nits can be grey, white, yellowish or brown, and some people claim they may be thought to be dandruff. Typically, nymphs are white, being about the size of nits (2-3 mm).
Have Head Lice Got Wings?
No, they only have six legs that allow crawling only. The insects don’t jump or fly.
Does Head Lice Look Like Dandruff?
Some are sure that pieces of dandruff and bugs’ nits look alike. However, they are not hard to differentiate. While dandruff looks like small white flakes 1-5 mm wide, nits have equal size and regular oval shape. Besides, dandruff falls off easily, while eggs are stuck on hairs, and are hard to remove. So if an affected person shakes his or her head, nits won’t fall abundantly.
A Few Words About Their Lifestyle
As a rule, adult species live for about a month. During this time, a female manages to produce up to 200 eggs (making several nits a day). A nit develops during 7-14 days, and a nymph needs about a week to turn into an adult. Although having a relatively short lifecycle, bugs reproduce very quickly.
Do Head Lice Live On Bedding?
Some of insects may stay on pillow cases and bed sheets, crawling there from person’s head. Thus, they may be caught by other people lying on this bed. To avoid it, you should try to was bed clothing in hot water as often as you can – ideally, once a day.
Should You Scratch Head Lice?
Scratching will bring no relief, because it won’t affect bugs anyway. By doing so, you may only promote skin inflammation and make toxins go further into the skin. Thus, you should avoid scratching during infestation, and deal with the cause of the problem.
Do Head Lice Bite Arms?
No, since bugs live on human heads, they drink blood piercing skin on scalp and sometimes neck. Besides, they are afraid of light, preferring to hide among thick hairs.
Signs of Head Lice
A person may be living with parasites on his head for quite a long time not noticing the signs of parasite presence. However, these are not hard to differentiate when you get more attentive. So how can one know he has parasites?
- Scalp itching is typical of vast majority of people bitten by bugs.
- Others may notice tiny white points moving in the hair – these are critters.
- Small nits reminding of dandruff may appear near hair roots and eventually fall from head, being on shoulders and neck.
- Scalp dryness can accompany contamination.
How to check for head lice? You may ask someone else to get a flash light and examine your head: bugs and eggs would be perfectly visible this way.
Can Dogs Get Head Lice?
Actually, dogs also can catch parasites, but they have a different kind – canine lice (chewing and sucking). It will not transfer to a human, but an animal needs treatment, as well.
Basics of Head Lice Removal
The golden rule of lice extermination is regular removal of insects from head. Your fight against the critters is less likely to be effective, if you don’t get rid of nits attached to hairs. They are difficult to kill, so you should try to remove as many of them as possible. Here are some pieces of advice to perform rid successfully.
- A usual brush is not convenient and effective – buy a fine-toothed comb. Created especially for lice extermination, it will remove even the smallest objects, including bugs and nits.
- To ease combing, use a spray conditioner.
- Comb each lock separately, and when you finish with one lock, fix it with hairpin to separate – it will help to avoid re-infestation of clean hair.
- To see the eggs better, light your place thoroughly. You may also ask someone else to help you with that. A magnifying glass will allow seeing parasites much better.
- When insects and nits are removed, they should be destroyed to avoid hatching and further re-population.
- All combs and other instruments used for rid should be sterilized properly.
This procedure should be performed daily until the bugs are totally exterminated. It takes a lot of time and patience, but without combing, the treatment won’t be full-fledged.
Will Haircut Help?
No, if a person cuts hair short, it will not make insects go away. However, it will be easier to comb nits out and find the bugs. Shaving may probably help to exterminate eggs and insects, but this is a drastic measure – not everyone is ready to do that, especially, women.
Treating Head Lice
There are different methods of extermination, and you can combine them, or choose what you like best. You can either use organic and home-made remedies, purchase prescription or over-the-counter shampoos, or try alternative methods.
Tea Tree Oil
Alternatively, you can use essential oils of some other plants, if you have allergy to tea tree oil. The most effective remedies are: neem, clove, red thyme, peppermint, lavender, aniseed, eucalyptus, nutmeg. You may soak a cotton ball in oil and apply it on scalp to leave overnight. Next day, wash it away and perform combing.
Mayonnaise or Olive Oil
These two products have slightly different effect on bugs: they block breathing channels of insects and make them suffocate. Methods of usage are similar: apply the product on scalp and hair, put a plastic cap on, and wait for 6-8 hours. Then cleanse hair using a usual shampoo with a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Procedures can be repeated once in 5-7 days during several weeks.
On the contrary, those who rely on special remedies only are advised to purchase special shampoos with pyrethrum or other active ingredients. Does head lice shampoo kill nits? Some of them do, but they are more toxic than all other remedies, and may case allergy in sensitive people. The main advantage of this treatment is the speed of infestation elimination. As a rule, one-two uses are enough to finish infestation. Application is simple: wash head with shampoo, leave lather for several minutes, wash away and comb hairs. Mind that such products are not suitable for kids, so use them carefully.
LouseBuster: Extermination Without Remedies
How to kill head lice without remedies at home? You can also search for electric combs: they emit tiny electric charges that kills bugs. As a rule, it has battery compartment and positively and negatively charged prongs that trap insects bodies and keep them close to the circuit. In fact, these combs are more effective for long hair, while usual plastic combs are recommended for short hair.
Protect Your Environment from Insects
To avoid re-infestation, you should also keep your dwelling and environment clean from the pests. How to do that? Follow simple rules:
- Vacuum carpets, furniture and all places where affected person spends most time. The same applies to car seats: clean it properly, especially the area where head resides.
- Wash bed clothing and personal clothes in hot water regularly.
- Non-washable hats and hair accessories should be sealed and stored in a bag while infestation is being cured.
Lice are among the most annoying parasites, and it is impossible to foresee and prevent infestation, even if you support good hygiene. Luckily, there are numerous remedies and methods of extermination that work safely and quickly.