How to Prevent and Treat Head Lice in Children (and Adults)

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How to Keep Kids from Getting Head Lice and How to Treat Them

Almost everyone feels the same way about things like head lice: they give them the creeps, chills, or shudders. Still, kids are very likely to get bitten by them. Also, it seems hard to get rid of the little bugs once they’ve settled on someone’s head. Luckily, there are things that can be done to avoid this.

How to Explain Head Lice

Head lice give almost everyone the creeps, chills, or shudders. But for those who don’t know, headlice are bugs that live in hair and feed on blood. They can’t fly or have wings. They’re small and hard to see, but quickly become many. Most of the time, they nest on the head. The egg cycle lasts about one to two weeks, and the chicks are fully grown in another few weeks.

Head lice move from one person or thing to another, and they like to hide in things like hairbrushes, hat or jacket fibres, couch fabrics, or pillows. Head lice bite and leave behind an itchy itch, but they don’t spread disease. Also, they’re not usually caused by bad cleanliness, despite what most people think. Headlice, like ticks and mosquitoes, are drawn to blood and don’t care where it comes from.

How to Tell If You Have Head Lice

Sometimes it’s easy to tell if someone has head lice because their hair will be itchy all the time. Head lice, on the other hand, can spread very quickly, so it’s helpful to know all the usual signs so that you can start treatment right away.

For the same reason that mosquito bites can make your hair itch, head lice bites can do the same. Keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. It’s interesting that how early the itching starts relies on the person and how sensitive they are to head lice. For instance, it might take weeks to see in some kids, which isn’t ideal because they only need a short time to grow from a nestling to a full-grown bug.

If your scalp is itchy, you might get a rash because scratching can cause a bacterial illness. This is likely to show up as swollen lymph nodes, red, swollen skin, or skin that crusts over and oozes.

It may take a few weeks for an itchy head to show up, but lice eggs, also known as nits, can be seen very clearly. A fine-tooth comb and wet hair are the best ways to do this. No matter how much you try to brush or shake off head lice or their eggs, they will still be there. The eggs can be yellow, tan, or brown. But once the chicks are out, the eggs look white or clear yellow.

How head lice live and grow

Head lice eggs, or nymphs, hatch at about the same rate every day and become fully grown in one to three weeks. Lice eat several times a day, and they can go up to two days without a host. Lice that are fully grown, or adults, are about the size of a sesame seed. They can be any colour from grayish-white to tan, which makes them look like sesame seeds.

How to Treat

There are a few ways to get rid of these gross bugs, but keep these things in mind. First, never put pesticides or other harsh chemicals on your head or, even more importantly, your child’s scalp. Head lice are technically insects, but the damage that harsh chemicals can do isn’t worth the chance that they won’t work. Second, things used to treat head lice can be dangerous on their own because they are often made of burning materials. So, don’t use a hair dryer or any other hot tool while you’re getting rid of head lice.

Some treatment options are:

  • Taking off by hand with a fine-tooth comb.
  • To prevent damage, use on wet hair and detangle with a wide-tooth comb first.
  • Divide hair into 1-inch chunks and use the fine-tooth comb to run it through the hair, starting at the head and root.
  • After each area, wipe the comb clean with a one-time-use cloth, like a paper towel. Do this twice more than once before you wash your hair or use a chemical treatment for head lice.
  • Lastly, put the comb in water that is at least 130°F for at least 10 minutes. Also, all soft surfaces, like pillows, rugs, and beds, should be washed at the same low temperature.

Over-the-Counter or Prescription

Medication is another way to treat head lice. You can use over-the-counter shampoos and conditioners or see a doctor to get a prescription for a stronger head lice remover. If your doctor says it’s safe, some ways can be used on kids as young as six months. Over-the-counter products should stay in your hair for a few days to give the medicine time to work. You should still use a lice comb twice a day, though. However, every item will have its own safety list. It’s important to carefully follow the rules, because not doing so could put you in danger.

Finally, the CDC says to use a lice comb 8 to 12 hours after treatment starts and every two to three days for a few weeks after treatment. In the meantime, the American Academy of Dermatology stresses how important it is to keep using the lice comb for at least 7–9 days, if not longer, even if the treatment seemed to work.

Keep in mind that old wives’ tales, like using mayonnaise, butter, or olive oil, may help to slow down or stop the head lice. There is, however, no scientific proof that these ways will kill or get rid of head lice. On the other hand, they might work well with the fine-tooth comb if you want to use chemical treatments as a last option.

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