Head Lice: Identifying Lice and Nit Infestation
How To Recognize and Remove Head Lice:
In many households, when a child comes home with a note stating that he/she has head lice, Parents run frantically to buy the latest treatment. After purchasing what they believe is going to work, they start by applying it to the heads of everyone in the home. After treating the child(ren), according to the directions, they are confident that the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, merely using store purchased treatments on the child’s head all by itself, will not remedy the issue.
The reason why the issue is not totally resolved is because by the time they find out about the infestation, the lice have moved into the bedding, towels in the bathroom, into the carpets and anywhere else there is fabric. Fabric, you ask? Yes, fabric which will hold onto flakes of skin, where the lice can eat and survive. Once someone lies down, uses or comes into contact with the area where the lice, dropped off of the host; everyone in the home ends up with the problem.
Lice will transfer from one person to another, from those whom are infested, by simple contact. Using combs, hats, bedding, or simply brushing up against someone, can enable the lice to move from person to person. Even using a towel in the bathroom or after taking a bath or shower can transfer the pests to another family member. Once lice are found, it is essential to isolate the person whom is carrying the parasites, from others until their head has been treated.
Recognizing Differences between Lice and Dandruff:
Recognizing signs of a possible infestation is not difficult but, can be challenging. In the beginning a child or adult, whom is hosting the lice or nits, they will continuously/repeatedly scratch their head. Scratching of the head and may be from scalp or skin irritants or conditions, which are not associated with having lice. Although head lice are not dangerous, nor do they spread or carry diseases, they can be a pain to deal with and can set off allergies. When this occurs, knowing what to look for is important, so that lice is not over-looked or mistaken as dandruff or other skin issues of the scalp.
Head Lice are small brown and sometimes tan, and can be seen moving on the scalp by the naked eye. However, using a Black Light will illuminate the pests by turning them a bright blue color. The Black Light will do a good job in illuminating any “nits” or eggs, which will be located within 1/32nd of an inch, of the scalp. At times, the pesky vermin will travel on the strands of hair, on the scalp, and in the areas where we lose the most heat from. These areas are typically heavily populated with hair, giving perfect cover, for the lice, to move and least likely to be seen.
Getting Rid of Head Lice and Nits:
The most common remedy for head lice and their eggs can be taken care of by visiting a local pharmacy outlet. Each kit usually contains a shampoo, cream rinse, and a fine toothed comb. Be sure to read the label instructions and warnings. Leaving some of the chemicals on the scalp may be harmful, if left on too long. Also, be sure to read labels for frequency of use, as use of these products too often, can make someone ill. Also suggested is a Bedding Spray, for Lice are recommended, typically one can per two twin sized beds, pillows and blankets. If you cannot locate Bedding Spray, use a flea killing spray approved for dogs. (Cat sprays are not potent enough to do the job.)
Other Remedies That May Work:
Homeopathic Remedies, which are pretty effective, include the use Mayonnaise or Olive Oil, and Peanut Butter and a shower cap. This is an inexpensive alternative to purchasing “over the counter” products. These remedies, typically take up to one 24 hour day, on the scalp with a shower cap on the head to prevent the lice from jumping or being transferred to another surface.
How to Use This Remedy:
Spread the mayonnaise, olive oil or peanut butter liberally through the hair. Once the entire head is covered, then place the shower cap on the head, to ensure no transfer of product or lice, can occur. Keep the shower cap on the head, for no less than 12 hours. Once the product has sat on the head for the 12 to 24 hours, remove the shower cap and wash the scalp, then rinse with warm water.
One added remedy, which works well but is hard to find, is Lye Soap. It was used and widely available up until the 1960’s, or so. However, Lye soap was taken from the store counters, because of the harsh chemicals in the soap. It is these harsh chemicals that will burn the lice and its eggs like salt burns a snail slug. If you are able to get this product, spot test it on the person you are going to treat, to ensure that there is not any allergic reaction. Also by spot testing, you can determine how long the person can keep the soap on their skin, without feeling discomfort.
Another remedy and weekly use maintenance method, is Sergeant’s scented flea shampoo. This can be used daily or weekly, as desired, without problems with frequent use of previous methods. The Flea shampoo leaves a soft scent and will disguise the efforts of lice removal. The positive side of this, as noted by most exterminators is if something will kill fleas, it will typically kill off head lice.
After Washing the Host’s Head, What Next?
Well, take a small bowl and fill it with dish soap. Using a Lice Comb slowly and methodically section the head of hair into small areas, using hair clips or clamps. Slowly run the metal or plastic comb, against the scalp and through the hair starting at the crown of the head, then working downward. At the end of each stroke, place the comb into the light and take a toothpick to push the lice and nits into the water bowl. Rinse the comb and repeat until the entire head has been gone through. Now, if you have access to a black light, checking for remaining lice and nits will be much easier. The black light will illuminate remaining lice and nits.
As soon as it is determined that a family member, or yourself has head lice, you will want to ensure that after you treat them, they reduce the chances of re-infestation. To do this, you will want to wash all of the bed linen, towels, blankets and sheets in the house. You can cut down, by stripping down all of the mentioned areas, before you begin working on the host.
After the items are washed, with normal laundry soaps ensure that you dry everything with the dryer on high heat. You want the fabrics to get real hot, but not burn. (Do not place items over a furnace, around a fire place, or in the microwave. Doing so will cause a fire. ). Upon completion of washing linens, you will want to spray the beds and pillows with Bedding Spray or Flea spray for dogs. Once this is done, use plastic bags to put over pillows then place pillows and plastic bags in pillow cases, for use.
Normally, dealing with head lice is as painful as dealing with an infection. Basically, it is an infection and a real pain. The sealing or covering the pillows then placing them in pillow cases will do two things. It will keep any lice, which bedded down in the pillows from surfacing back into the clean head or hair. Also, any lice which may have survived the harsh chemicals in the hair will not be able to find refuge in the pillows. Since the life span of the average Lice is 72 hours, without food they cannot survive, and lay more eggs. Whichever method(s) you wish to use, they all have their positives and negatives. Some methods are more cost effective and affordable, than others.
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