An Important Guide to Know About Lice in Hair
Lice can be an annoying experience. All of a sudden, you may find your mane possessed by creepy crawlers whose only purpose is to breed and lay eggs and make your life a nightmare. Your scalp might be itchy, and you feel awful. On some days, you contemplate going bald. Only those who have lice on the head can fully appreciate how irritating it can be. First and foremost, in this – lice have nothing to do with cleanliness habits. It prefers a habitat that is clean and soft hair that is easy to nest and lay eggs in.
The second is that these pesky creatures are contagious, and they can be transferred to you by sharing your pillowcase or hair care products with someone who has lice. You might also have it transferred to your hair from another if your hair touches someone’s who has lice. They get their nutrients by blood-feeding and can survive up to thirty days.
Home treatment for head lice
One of the most natural methods to get rid of these parasites is to follow a home treatment method. Though these parasites do not have wings, they can still get transmitted from one person to another. The eggs that lice lay are termed nits – they cling to your hair shaft using sticky saliva.
It is important to take steps to remove these eggs from the scalp to get rid of the lice. Else you might have to face repeated lice infestations. They can be annoying, but you can easily get rid of lice using home treatments for head lice.
Mayonnaise– Apply mayonnaise to the edges of your hairline. Wrap your hair with a bathing cap and let it sit for some time. Then rinse with mild baby shampoo.
Olive oil or coconut oil- an ingenious cure! You can mix olive or coconut oil with some essential oils and apply it to your head to get rid of lice. Also, remember to keep it for one or two hours and rinse off. Look for shampoos that have ingredients like coconut oil. If you are looking for hair care products that offer effective solutions with the goodness of coconut oil, try Traya herbal hair oil.
Combing– Combing is the most powerful way to get rid of lice. But it can be a tiresome process. Add some conditioner to your hair, then comb the strands.
Symptoms of Lice In Hair
- Itchy scalp
- Crawling sensation
- Head scratching
- Pink eye
- Finding nits (eggs)
- Sleeping issues
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sores on scalp and shoulders
A common symptom of lice
An itchy scalp is one of the typical symptoms of lice. It is one of the common symptoms of head lice, but that alone doesn’t mean you have head lice. It can also be other causes, such as dandruff and eczema, which can contribute to an itchy scalp.
Other names of lice
- Head louse
- Pediculus Humanus Capitis
Things mistook for head louse include;
Residue from shampoos and hair products
- Small insects in the hair
- Scabs and debris
Causes of lice in hair
The head louse can live close to your scalp, where they feed various times a day on blood. They can be seen on your hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. They are also seen behind your ears and at the neckline. While these parasites are a nuisance, they never spread disease.
The life cycle of lice
The phases of lice are mentioned below;
- Nits – The eggs that are laid by lice are known as nits. They are small, yellow to white-sized eggs that are laid to the scalp. They use your body heat to incubate and hatch. It might take 9 to 10 days to do so.
- Nymphs - the eggs are then hatched into nymphs, and they will usually be the size of a headpin and are yellow to rust in color. They might develop into adults after 7 days, and the empty nit shell might remain attached to your hair shaft.
- Adult louse - the louse usually is the size of a pinhead and looks like a moving grain of sesame seed. Mature lice can live up to thirty days on your head, and they might immediately die if they leave your scalp as they might need to feed frequently.
Risk Factors Of Lice In Hair
Infestation with head louse is most common among school-goers and school-age kids and their caretakers and household members. They are not just transmittable diseases; the secondary bacterial infection of the skin result from scratching can happen with any lice infestation.
As mentioned, head lice have not resulted in the cleanliness of a person. They are mostly spread by immediate contact with the hair of a person who is infected already. Such contact can be common among kids during play at
- Home and
- Playground or parties
- Uncommonly, the transmission might happen by
- Wearing clothes like coats, hats, helmets, etc
- Using infested towels, hair combs, etc
- Laying on a bed or couch that has been in contact with the infected person.
Lack of Screening
Lice continue to spread if undiagnosed and untreated. You can use lice comb to look for nits or live lice (note for symptoms like scratching, etc.).
School-wide head lice screening tests must be implemented. Also, parents must perform checks at home and report them to their school nurse.
How to tell if your child has lice in hair?
The main symptom is itching the head or ear. But lice don’t always cause itchiness. You might also see small red spots on your scalp like bloodstains, which are lice bites.
To check, you must use a fine-toothed comb and;
- Check your child’s head under a table lamp. Because they avoid light
- Wet your hair
- Section your hair into various parts with a comb
- Now comb through every strand, one at a time
- Check behind the ears or on the back of the neck
- Clean the comb after each use
- Wash your hands.
If you scratch your scalp, it might lead the skin to break and spread infection.
Prevention of Lice In Hair
“Never share your hair products” is the only way to prevent lice in hair. Also, follow these simple actions to reduce the risk of getting lice in hair.
- Watch your head – you might also notice lice crawling onto your body. They usually spread with head – to – head contact.
- Hot water laundry - lice die when exposed to a temperature of more than 120.3°F for more than five minutes. Toss your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat.
How To Get Rid Of Lice
There are loads of effective medications that can eradicate lice. Consult a doctor to choose the right treatment. Standard treatments like lotions, shampoos are known as pediculicides. These products include medications that can kill the lice.
You can check the packaging that includes instructions about how long the product should be on the hair, and it is essential to follow these guidelines.
After twelve hours, you can use a fine comb called nit to remove the lice and eggs. In some cases, prescription treatments are essential. Medications that are much stronger than over – the – counter varieties include;
Malathion- Apply it to dry hair and let it sit for some time. You can also leave it overnight before rinsing it. You might notice a stinging smell when used. Use the process after 7 days if needed. Never use it more than thrice. Malathion is highly safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Lindane- Use it on dry scalp and let it sit for four minutes. Then rinse. Follow the same process after 7 days if required. Also, never use if more than twice as might cause neurotoxicity. This product is not safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also, use it only once if pregnant.
Permethrin- this medication must be used on wet hair. You can then rinse after ten minutes. It can also be used for the second time if needed. Never use more than twice as the parasite can resist the drug.
Pyrethrin- Use it on wet hair and wash off after ten minutes. Treatment includes applying a second time. If you are using it more than a couple of times, lice can combat the drug. Never use this in pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Dimethicone lotion– a silicone-based lotion often used in makeup products and toiletries. Use the lotion twice once in 7 days. Allow it to sit overnight and wash off with your regular shampoo.
CAY spray- Coconut, anise, and Ylang – Ylang oils are physical insecticides. Use this spray to your hair and leave it for some time. Then comb your hair with a nit comb to remove lice from your head. Alternatively, you can also use hair care products that have the above-mentioned ingredients.
Word of caution - Try avoiding medicine getting into your eyes. Wash your hand thoroughly after application.
Consult a doctor before starting any lice treatment. In general, they can also be treated at home. These above-mentioned treatments are washed through your hair. A special lice comb can also be used to remove the nits from your hair. Metal combs are also available to remove the sticky eggs.
Head Lice Treatment
How to remove lice from hair permanently? Fortunately, some of the choices are available these days and you can pick from a wide range of home remedies to a wide range of medical treatments on how to get rid of head lice treatments. This includes getting rid of head lice by applying some substances which are available at home.
- Lemon juice and garlic paste - use tea tree oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, and almond paste. The garlic paste and lemon juice are a very powerful treatment to remove lice on the head.
When to see a doctor
Head lice are not harmful, but they can be very annoying and highly contagious. If you have a symptom of lice or notice these in your kid, you must seek treatment immediately. Over–the–counter medications are usually effective.
Reinfestation of head lice can happen if you don’t remove the lice within few days of the treatment. If you have used the medication properly and the lice remain, call your doctor about prescription-strength treatments. Never use your Over – – Counter medication if your first treatment has failed.
Myths on head lice
Myths can continue the cycle of getting an infestation and spreading lice again and again. Never believe these common myths suggested below;
- Special shampoos for head lice- Always try handcrafted medications for hair lice like Tyra products.
- Preventative treatments – There is no preventative treatment for head lice
- Nits are the sign of active head lice infestation –
- No! nits are invisible.
- No – nit policies at schools can keep the parasite at bay – kids are allowed to return to school after initial treatment
- At-home remedies can prevent head lice – There is no sufficient evidence for this.
- It is easy to remove live lice - It can be done, but when your hair is highly infested, it’s not that easy.
- You must call your health care expert for a prescription on lice treatment – or you can use OTC medications and products customized for head lice like Traya products.
Other home remedies on how to remove lice from hair?
You now know all about head lice let’s discuss other home remedies to get rid of nits and lice in hair.
- Tea tree oil – Apply a few drops of the oil on the affected hair and scalp before going to bed. Comb your hair in the morning thoroughly to remove the dead nits and lice.
- White Vinegar - Mix vinegar with some water and apply it to the infested scalp. Wrap your head and allow it to sit for some time. Then comb your hair and remove the lice. Wash your hair thoroughly to get rid of lice. You can also use apple cider vinegar. The acetic acid content can loosen up the bond between hair and nits, making it easier to take off the lice.
- Neem oil - Use some neem oil to your shampoo, and then rinse your hair. Also, comb your hair properly sectioning using a nit comb.
- Petroleum Jelly – Rub petroleum jelly on your scalp and allow it to rest until the next morning. Use some baby oil on the comb and run through your hair to remove the lice from your head. Wash your hair well. The jelly mask can be an uninhabitable environment for lice and suffocates them to death.
- Rosemary oil - Add some drops of rosemary oil to your regular shampoo. Remember to apply every strand and scrub your scalp gently. Now comb your hair with lice or nit comb to loosen the eggs from your hair instantly. Then rinse thoroughly.
Frequently Asked Questions (Faqs)
1.Do head lice live on beds?
Head lice cannot live on beds for a long time as they breed and feed on human blood.
2.Does salt kill lice?
Saltwater can sometimes kill lice, but it depends on the salt used. Table salt never works well to kill nits or head lice. Kosher salt or sea salt can work well but never dissolve well.
3.Can baby oil keep head lice away?
One of the effective ways to control head lice is baby oil. Just saturate your hair and wrap your head with a shower cap to avoid staining your bed covers. Wash your hair in the morning and shampoo your hair to remove oil
4.How to check hair lice?
Section your hair and run lice comb through it. After each pull, you will notice the lice in the comb that has become dislodged. Continue to comb your hair until you see nil head lice or nits.
5.Can head lice turn to body lice?
In rare cases, head lice can multiply and some might migrate into clothes which can further trigger a new epidemic of body lice.
6.Can tea trees kill lice?
Some studies have suggested that tea tree oil can be effective in treating head lice. The oil can also lessen the number of lice hatched eggs.
7.Can hair dye kill lice?
Yes, hair dye can kill head lice. The chemicals in hair dyes such as ammonia are highly toxic for adult lice. But hair dyes might not affect the nits as the chemical might not penetrate the eggshell.
8.Can I shave my head to get rid of head lice and nits?
You can remove the environment that the lice survive is get rid of eggs and lice completely. But this is an extreme step and it is not needed. There are various home solutions and also over – the – counter medications that can guide you to kill the lice and completely get rid of them.
The only way to make sure that any of these treatments for lice work well is to follow them strictly. Never stop using even after your head is free from infestation. Repeat the treatment if needed after a couple of weeks. Also, make sure that all your hair care products like pillowcases, combos, etc are sterilized in boiling water before every use.
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Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, BAMS
A modern-day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. He is the founder of Dr. Shailendra Healing School that helps patients recover from chronic conditions through the Ayurvedic way of life.