Parent’s Guide to Lice
Outbreaks of head lice have become part of our society and part of raising children today. At times, it can be very difficult to get rid of lice but not impossible. Patience and perseverance are the key to getting rid of it.
Head lice (louse bugs) are small insects about the size of a sesame seed. Nits, the eggs of the louse bug are tiny, grayish white, tan or brown ovals that attach very tightly to pieces of hair shafts in the hair. These eggs cannot wash off or be blown away. It takes some effort to remove them from the hair shaft and when removed by hand or by combing out, they turn brown. Nits may be found throughout the hair, but often are seen at the nape of the neck, behind the ears and at the crown and cap of the head.
The nits are what the female louse lays and she can lay 3 – 10 eggs a day. It only takes 7 – 12 days for that nit to hatch and then develop into an adult bug within 12 days. Once it mates with another adult bug, the female can then lay more nits (sometimes 100 or more eggs in a 14 day cycle). Louse bugs can only live up to 32 to 35 days.
Head lice can move around and crawl very quickly. However, it is not true that they jump or fly. The lice bug feeds from the blood on the scalp of the head several times a day. Unfortunately, not all people infected with lice are itchy. Sometimes the itching doesn’t start until two weeks after the lice gets into the head. The lice bug eats by injecting their saliva into the scalp and then sucking the blood. The itching sensation starts when someone becomes sensitive to the saliva of the bug.
Lice and their nits can’t be drowned. However, some experts claim that the bugs and eggs can be suffocated with oil or mayo if left on for 6 to 8 hours, and then the eggs can be removed by combing out with a thick conditioner, baking soda, and a metal lice comb. Special shampoos like the over-the-counter pesticides are not 100% effective and can be toxic. In addition, lice have become extremely resistant to these products. Just because you have treated once with an over-the-counter pesticides doesn’t mean you have gotten rid of the problem. Any nits left in the head can hatch within 7 – 12 days and start the process over again.
Shampooing and combing are the essential key to getting rid of lice today and their nits. With our new and improved lice treatment shampoo (Licelogic Clear and Free Shampoo), after the first initial treatment is done, we ask our clients to do a maintenance program. The follow-up is to shampoo 2 days straight with the lice shampoo, comb out with conditioner & baking soda on the 4th day, then shampoo 2 more days straight and comb out with conditioner & baking soda on the 7th day. You need to use a professional metal-toothed lice comb, not the plastic or the ones that come in the pesticide boxes, to remove all the lice. (You can also purchase a flea comb from Petco which is very effective in removing the bugs and their nits). Even after the lice cycle has been broken, it is essential to continuous check the child’s head by using the lice treatment shampoo or combing out once a week as a preventive method.
- Head lice can affect anyone, young or old, male or female.
- Lice love clean hair. Remember the head that has lice is the most important thing, not the house.
- The nits are not contagious; it is the lice bug that is contagious because it travels from head to head.
- It cannot thrive on household pets.
- Girls with long hair should wear their hair up and off their shoulders if possible so it is less likely to come in contact with someone else's hair or clothing. They should also be using deterrent sprays with rosemary, lavender, coconut, tea tree oils in them, gels, or hair spray. Boys should also use some type of deterrents, like gel or hair spray in their heads.
- Make sure your child knows not to share brushes, hats, headphones and any other articles that can transmit head lice.
- If your child does come in contact with someone with head lice, check that child's hair every other day for 8 to 10 days to see if you see any eggs glued sideways to the hair shaft that are not pure white. If you are not sure, ask a lice professional, your doctor, or school nurse to check.
- The best treatment for head lice today is using all natural and chemical free ingredients.
- Keep an eye open for head lice signs such as scratching and complaints of an itchy scalp. Red dot bite marks can sometimes be seen on the scalp, behind the ears, and neck.
- Only clean the house the first 24 to 36 hours. Vacuum floor and couches and put things in the dryer that you don't have to wash like bedding, blankets, comforters, stuff animals, coats, hats, backpacks for 20 minutes on high heat. You can also bag stuff animals that can't be thrown in the dryer for 4 to 7 days. Lice do not embed themselves in the mattresses or pillows. Lice bugs need a host. They don't live anymore than 36 hours after they have left a head.
- Although lice and their nits are not a health risk, they are a nuisance that can impact a family in many stressful ways. That is when a experienced professional lice expert like myself can help and treat your household.