Head lice are small wingless parasites that live in human hairs. They feed on small amounts of blood they extract from biting the scalp. Lice infestations can be a problem for children ages 3 to 12 years and are more commonly found in girls. It is important (especially for parents) to know that lice are not dangerous as they do not spread disease.
They are however extremely contagious and the itching they cause can be very annoying. Scratching can lead to irritation and skin infection. Getting rid of Head lice can be a lengthy process there are a few methods you can try. Adult lice are fairly easy to remove, it is the eggs that they lay that are problematic. Even a few eggs left on the scalp can lead to re-infection.
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Over-the-counter lice treatments
Required tools and materials
- Lice treatment (such as pediculicide).
- Quality nit removal comb
- Purchase the treatment and read the instructions carefully
- Apply the treatment to the hair as described by the instructions, paying careful attention to the time it should remain in the hair and when it should be washed out.
- Remove the treatment from the hair as indicated. After treatment, you should not wash your hair normally for at least a day.
- Change bed linens as soon as the treatment is done. (Lice may be in sheets and pillowcases, towels, and clothes. These should be laundered and the room and mattress vacuumed. Dry linens and clothes in the hottest setting possible without damaging the fabric
Tips and warnings
- Do not scratch your head if you have lice. Remember, the lice themselves are not dangerous. It is the scratching that may cause infection.
To prevent head lice infections
- Avoid buying hats and other head coverings from yard sales and thrift stores
- Do not hang hats on public hat racks, especially in classrooms where children have had infestations.
- If purchased, leave it in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks before wearing it. This should kill any parasites that are present.
- head Lice live for an average of 7-10 days. Comb through hair often to be sure that lice have completely gone.
- Household items that may not fit in the washer and dryer (cushions, curtains, pillows, etc) should be placed in large plastic bags and left in the sun for a day. The heat will kill off any lice.
Optional treatments to get rid of lice
- If you are male (or a female who won’t mind a dramatic change in appearance) shaving your head bald is one of the most effective ways to get rid of lice.
- Placing sprigs of rosemary in the pillowcases of everyone in the household of someone who has lice is also a good idea. Lice are repelled by the smell and lice that remain in the hair will be gone in two or so weeks
- After treatment, it is also a good idea to get shampoos and conditioners that contain rosemary to prevent re-infestation.