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. 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.
Where do Head Lice Come From? +
Head lice spread from head to head contact. 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? +
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.
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.
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, which 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.
I am 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 salons 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! Join 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 salons 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.