Head lice (or nits) no doubt bring a sense of dread too every parent. So, what are the signs and treatment methods used to banish these common hair invaders?
Although they are not considered to be dangerous, head lice are usually a common problem for children between the ages of three and eleven – although that’s not to say that they can’t find their way into your teen’s hair. It’s important to note that they have nothing to do with personal hygiene or cleanliness, but there are ways that you can prevent a batch from making themselves comfortable in your home.
What are head lice?
Head lice are small, wingless insects that live in the hair on your scalp, as this is the only place that they can survive. They actually need to feed from the scalp several times a day and can only last up to two days on a surface that’s not a human head.
The eggs of the lice are referred to as nits and are around the size of a small flake of dandruff. Lice lay their nits (or eggs) on the hair shafts close to the scalp and rely on the warmth of the had to hatch – making them incredibly difficult to brush out. The nits hatch within one to two weeks of being laid, with the shell being white or clear. If not treated, the process repeats every three weeks, so it’s important to get on top of a batch as soon as you can.
What are the signs and symptoms of head lice?
Although it can take a few weeks, the first signs that your child may have contracted head lice is frequent itching and scabs on the scalp forming from scratching. Lice are around the size of a sesame seed, and usually resemble brown dots as opposed to actual insects crawling around.
Transmission can occur from direct contact, or from sharing items such as hats, brushes or combs. While no doubt annoying, head lice don’t spread disease and aren’t considered to be dangerous.
How do you treat head lice?
There are generally two main treatments used to combat head lice:
- Wet combing, using conditioned and a fine-tooth comb
- Chemical removal, using synthetic or natural insecticides
Both options will require regular treatment over the course of a few weeks. Some methods work better than others and will vary depending on the person. It’s also important to check every member of the family for lice, as well as washing and dry-cleaning linen, clothing and stuffed toys in hot water to “clear out” any lingering lice.
If you’re struggling to contain head lice or are having repeated dealings with them, it might be time to speak to your local doctor to obtain a referral to a dermatologist. 13 Doctor provides access to medical professionals from the comfort of your own home and offers appointments seven days a week.