How do you check for lice on yourself and your pets? Here is a checklist to guide you.
Lice can be referred to as a wingless parasitic insect that lives on the scalp, but it can also be found on clothes and other substances. They can be difficult to identify because they are just 2-3 mm long; carefully examining the hair is one of the few ways to check successfully.
How to Check for Head Lice Yourself
Lice can be found in three areas of the body- the hair, the body, and the pubic area.
Whenever you are dealing with lice, you should know that;
- The outbreak of lice do not connote dirtiness or that you or your family is unclean
- Sometimes, using the lice comb is all you need to get rid of lice in your child’s hair.
- Even though the lice outbreak may not be caused by a dirty environment, it is very important to maintain a healthy environment consciously.
An itchy head or itchy scalp is the basic symptom of lice. It has been said that the itchiness is caused by allergic reaction louse saliva and that it may not occur for two to six weeks after you’ve contacted the lice.
Sometimes you will feel the bugs crawling on your scalp; at other times, you may not, especially if you are not a sensitive person because lice are as little and tiny as your hair, and their movement may not be noticed or felt on your scalp.
Another evidence of head lice is when you discover some kind of discoloration that looks like dirt or dandruff, but you don’t have hair breakage. While combing, you will discover tiny things like dirt falling off your hair without your hair breaking off. If you use a magnifying glass, you will discover that those specks of dirt are living organisms.
Typically you can see the lice or spot them in between your hair; they usually look like dandruff.
Head Lice and Dandruff
Nits are the eggs of a louse that is attached to the hair. Nits often look like Dandruff and they are similar in some ways. For instance, when you have Dandruff, it often comes with itching, but it is not as severe as the itches caused by lice.
Dandruff can be visible on the scalp, but lice lay eggs on the scalp, not the hair.
Although lice and their nits are small, they are visible to the naked eye. Head lice can be white, brown, or dark gray. They are most often found in the hair at the back of the neck or behind the ears. Nits are round or oval specks that are tightly glued to hairs near the scalp.
Dandruff and head lice have a lot in common: itchy head, irritated scalp, and white objects in the hair.
But is there a link?
Dandruff does not influence lice, and the presence of Dandruff is not caused by lice.
Lice lay eggs- nits that sometimes look like dandruff. Taking a closer look, you will find out that these nits stick to the hair and not the scalp, plus it does not cause the hair to fall off freely. On the other hand, dandruff causes the hair to flake, making it fall off easily. Dandruff affects the scalp of the hair.
A louse (singular lice) presents itself in the body in three forms- Nit, Nymph, and then a Louse. The nit is the egg that the louse lays on the hair, body or pubic part of the body. The nit matures into a nymph (this is an immature louse), and the nymphs mature to a louse which more or less the size of a sesame seed.
In other words, when checking for lice, you are likely to find them in their three growth stages and should be treated thoroughly. Otherwise, you will get a reoccurrence of the infestation when you get rid of the lice, but don’t get rid of the nits.
Some of the frequently asked questions about Lice are;
- Where do lice come from?
Most lice infections come from head-to-head contact. So you can be infected by sharing a comb or anything that is used for the hair. You should know that lice cannot survive in a region that is not hairy
Here are some other conditions that can lead to the transfer of lice:
- Sitting in the close gap to others: Sitting in close distance to an infected person, one can unknowingly receive the lice.
- Sharing brushes, comb, and towel: This is the most common among all, people tend to share comb and articles like that without making sure the latter is free from lice.
- Playing with other kids in school: playing with other people infected with lice can easily be a means of contacting the infection.
- Are lice contagious?
Lice are contagious; it spreads easily from person to person if a classmate, friend, or family member has recently had lice, lice could be the reason why a person develops itchy scalp. So yes, it is contagious, and you have to beware of people who have contracted it.
- How do I know if I have contacted lice?
The most common symptom of lice infection is an itchy head, but that does not signify that you have lice as we all know other stigmas like eczema and Dandruff also bring along the itchy scalp and it might also be dandruff, but there is a way to know which is which.
If you truly have contacted lice you might just be able to feel something moving in your hair, a sensation that an unwelcomed guest is living on your hair and most times you can also spot a louse by putting your fingertip into your hair and pulling it out, also note that if you spot just one louse, then you are likely to be infected with several living lice and their eggs known as nits.
- What is the color of these lice?
Lice eggs (called nits) are oval. They may appear to be the color of their host’s hair, ranging from white to yellow to brown.
- Do lice eventually die?
Generally, a person infected with lice can a more than a dozen other living lice on their head, although some hatching, while some may be dead, their eggs will also be there.
An adult louse can survive a few weeks on the scalp, but they die once they are removed from a person’s hair in a day.
- Is there a treatment or cure?
There are a few medications that apply to the human head/body, for children between the ages of 2 years and above should be treated by firstly removing nits, nymphs, and adult lice by hand. Permethrins are drugs for children older than two months of age, but it should be considered after seeing the physician.
There are Over The Counter (OTC) medications that are applicable to head lice. Such as,
- Natural Ingredients
Head lice sometimes go away on their own because there are not enough insects to maintain the infestation, or they may persist for an indefinite period without treatment. With proper treatment, the infestation usually goes away within about two weeks.
- Should I keep away from an infected person, or should I keep my child away from school due to lice infestation?
There should not be any reason to keep your child or yourself isolated because of the infection, it is something you can curb on your without making a fuss all you have to do is watch your hygiene, do thorough housekeeping or cleaning, and you should be okay in a few weeks.
There are several ways to uproot these lice from our hairs;
- Usage of comb to separate the hair: One can easily use a comb to divide the hair to identify the lice clearly, but it’s not as simple as it seems because these very lice are as tiny as a dot that it will be difficult to pinpoint.
- Make use of shining light: But not so difficult if you make use of light to identify the lice after separating the hair. Note that these lice will sometimes stick to the root of the hair vehemently so you’ll have to be delicate.
Fumigating the house because of a lice infestation will not help get rid of the lice on your hair or your body. You can try out some home remedies using essential oils or mayonnaise to get rid of lice. But when the situation becomes uncontrollable, then you can reach out to your doctor for a prescription or get an OTC drug to get rid of the pest.
You are better off preventing lice infestation than curing. To prevent a future reoccurrence;
- Soak in hot water the combs, brushes or any other item used on the hair for at least 10minutes
- Clean up the house. There is no need for in-depth cleaning since a louse cannot survive outside their host. Just observe proper hygiene.
- Avoid using another person’s hair care items
- Avoid sharing pillowcases and discourage children from playing with one another’s hair. In short, avoid head contact, particularly after an outbreak of lice.
Healthy hygiene is enough to ward them off, even though they are not caused by a dirty environment. You should also treat your pets as you treat yourself.