Understanding head lice and how to treat it
Understanding head lice
When a family finds lice on someone in the home, often, the first reaction is to panic. There’s no doubt dealing with head lice can be stressful and time-consuming, primarily because people are unaware how to properly treat it and take care of the home afterwards.
It’s important to understand head lice to reduce the stigma and fear of re-infestation. Understanding head lice can help reduce some of the fear and anxiety associated with an outbreak.
Lice are parasites, which means that lice need some kind of host to provide an environment where they can survive and propagate. Head lice have evolved with humans for hundreds of thousands of years, forming a parasitic relationship with us to the point where now the only environment lice can live is on a human scalp with hair.
Think of the hair as their home, and the scalp is where they get food. They have developed six claws designed specifically to attach to human hairs close to the scalp where the lice can feed.
Understanding head lice life cycle
The life of a louse (singular for lice) starts as an egg or nit. Female lice lay about a half-dozen eggs every day. The nit is a tiny yellow/tan speck about one millimeter long with a glue-like surface. Nits are very difficult to see and remove.
Nits hatch about every seven to 10 days and begin life as immature nymphs. After about 10 days, they grow to full size.
Lice need to eat several times a day. They move onto the scalp and pierce it to draw blood. Lice can’t live without a human host for more than 48 hours. This is important to know when dealing with an infestation because there are some misconceptions about how lice spread and how to respond.
Lice cannot survive on pillows, sheets, stuffed animals, hats, scarves, furniture, or carpet for more than 48 hours. To catch lice this way would be extremely rare. Head lice is spread through head-to-head contact. They also can’t live on your body, facial hair or pets—that’s a different kind of lice.
Nits can’t live without a human host. The warmth of the body provides the needed heat for nits to gestate. Nits that are removed or that fall in the form of lost hair die before they hatch.
Understanding how to remove Lice from the home
When someone in your home has lice, you don’t need to fumigate your house or pack away anything made of fabric in plastic bags for weeks. You just need to wash the clothes, bedding and towels on high heat, and dry them in high heat (lice can live underwater for several hours). Any stuffed animals on the bed can be put in the dryer for about 20 minutes on high heat to kill any lice and eggs or in a bag for at least 48 hours.
It is also important to wash and soak any brushes or other hair accessories that may have been used by the person with lice for at least 10 minutes in hot water with soap.
It is also important to think of other places where the person with lice has put his or her head where hairs with lice may have fallen—hats, backpacks, car seats, etc. You can use a lint roller on car seats, and avoid wearing any previously-worn hat for at least 48 hours. Always remember the 48-hour rule!
Lice can’t fly or jump. They only spread by moving from one person’s hair to another person’s hair when the people are making head-to-head contact—either directly or through items with hair on them.
At the end of the day, if you or someone in your life has lice, don’t panic or stress. With multiple treatment options, we have solutions for every family and budget, and we can help you every step of the way.
Call today and book your appointment.