on the scalp, head lice are often found near the neckline at the back of the head and behind the ears. Anyone can get lice by coming into contact with either lice or nits, unless properly treated, they can become a recurring concern. Take these steps to get a head start on head lice prevention.
Get a Head Start on Head Lice Prevention
Know the Symptoms
Observing nits on hair is one of the most common signs of lice, aside from the presence of live lice other symptoms include-
- Intense itching on scalp
- Tickling feeling on scalp
- Lice on scalp or clothing
- Small rash or scratches on scalp or neck
Make an appointment to visit your physician promptly, if you suspect a lice infestation.
Look for Lice
Lice need human blood to survive, infesting the human head to feed and lay eggs. The female louse produces a sticky substance to attach eggs at the base of a hair shaft. Within six to nine days, the eggs will hatch producing live lice.
Adult lice do not jump or fly, they crawl and can be approximately the size of a sesame seed, while lice nits are tiny and may be difficult to see without adequate lighting and sectioning hair to remove with a fine-toothed comb. Nits might appear to look like dandruff flakes, but are opaque, raindrop-shaped and more difficult to brush away from hair. Some nits are empty eggs, never developing into a case of head lice, however, treat and remove all nits to prevent the possibility of hatching or recurring infestations.
Close physical contact, most often transferred while children or families play together closely. Separate any infested clothing or personal items including combs, brushes, hats, headphones, clothing, towels, pillows, blankets, and soft toys to prevent the spread of lice.
Check any potentially contaminated soft-surfaced household furniture, bedding, or fabric-covered seating used leading up to the discovery of lice, as they can survive for one to two days without feeding on human blood.
Effectively preventing the spread of head lice is challenging, especially when school-aged children and their personal belongings are often in close proximity to one another in shared environments. Even with meticulous hygiene habits, head lice can be transferred from person-to-person.
Various over-the-counter products are available to repel lice using natural plant ingredients such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or rosemary oil, however, the effectiveness may produce varied results. Keep in mind, many natural treatments are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate safety and effectiveness of claims meeting FDA standards.
- Inspect household members for head lice and nits.
- Apply prescribed or over-the-counter lice treatment medications (topical and oral) and shampoos formulated to kill lice as instructed on packaging instructions.
- Separate and comb through wet hair with fine-toothed or nit comb to remove lice.
- Collect and wash contaminated combs, brushes, bedding, clothing, hats, and any other items in hot (130°F/54°C) water, drying at high heat setting for a minimum of twenty minutes.
- Place unwashable items in an airtight, sealed bag for two weeks.
- Thoroughly vacuum the floor and furniture throughout the household.
- Sterilize combs and brushes in hot (130°F/54°C) water or rubbing alcohol for approximately an hour.
While time consuming, these steps are part of the most effective method of removing head lice aside from seeking professional services.
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