Head lice infestation: 21 head lice treatment fact you cannot afford to miss

1. What are head lice?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Head lice are blood-sucking insects and tan to grayish-white in color. They attach themselves to the skin on the head and lay eggs (nits) in the hair.

2. How are Head Lice Transmitted?
Head lice can be spread by direct contact with the head or hair of an infested person. The adult louse can survive up to 1-2 days without feeding on the scalp; therefore can be found on objects that have been in contact with an infested person. Examples of objects that commonly spread head lice are:
• Clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, and sports uniforms
• Hair care instruments such as combs, brushes, or towels
• Other objects such as pillows, beds, carpet, and stuffed animals

3. If I have head lice, does it mean I am dirty?

According to Susan Walker, M.D., director of FDA’s Division of Dermatology and Dental Products.”Getting head lice does not mean you are dirty—it only means that you’ve been around others with head lice,”

4. How to check and spot head lice?

You can check for head lice or nits by parting the hair in several spots. Use a magnifying glass and a bright light to help spot them. Lice can move fast so it may be easier to spot the nits. Nits can look like dandruff, but you can identify them by picking up a strand of hair close to the scalp and pulling your fingernail across the area where you suspect a nit. Dandruff will come off easily, but nits will stay firmly attached to the hair

5. What are head Lice Life Cycle?
The life cycle of the head louse has three stages: nit, nymph, and adult. The life cycle of a single louse from egg to egg is about 1 month.
Nits: Head lice eggs are called nits. Nits are laid by the adult female louse and are attached to the base of the hair shaft by strong cement. They are located close to the scalp because they require body heat for incubation.
Nymphs: When an egg hatches, it releases a nymph. The nit shell stays attached to the hair and turns a dull yellow color. The nymph looks like an adult louse but is smaller. As the nymph grows, it molts out of its exoskeleton 3 times before it becomes an adult.
Adult: The adult louse feeds upto 5 times a day by piercing the skin with its claws, injecting irritating saliva, and sucking blood. Head lice hold onto the hair with hook-like claws found at the end of each of their 6 legs. Adult lice are active and can move quickly.

6. Where do head lice come from?
Head lice have been around for thousands of years. As with any insect, they learn to adapt to their environment in order to survive. We can never get rid of them completely, but we can learn how to manage them.

7. Do head lice fly or jump?
Head lice do not have wings and knees so they cannot fly or jump.

8. How do head lice move around?
Head lice CRAWL around and they can be very fast. They require head to head contact for transmission. It is possible that because of the way young children play, head lice are seen more widely amongst primary school children than adolescents or adults.

9. Do head lice spread disease?
No. A head lice infection is not a life threatening health condition, but can be irritating– like similar health conditions such scabies, and ringworm, it is a parent or guardian’s duty to treat and care for their child.

10. Where and how do head lice live?
No.
 Head lice very rarely fall from the head. They require blood to survive. Head lice feed 3-4 times a day and without blood, will dehydrate in about 6 hours in a dry climate and 24 hours in a humid climate. An egg requires warmth to hatch and is the reason why they are laid close to the scalp. The further away from the scalp, the less likely they are to survive.

11. Do head lice actually like only clean hair?
No. Head lice are not selective. They don’t care if hair is long, short, blonde, brown, washed this morning or last week. As long as they are warm, and have blood to drink, then they are content.

12. What treatment kills 100% of head lice or eggs?
There is no single treatment that kills 100% of head lice or eggs. Whichever treatment you choose it can take time and persistence to get rid of head lice. Use a method that will not risk the health of your children

13. Is there a way to prevent head lice totally?
No, not that we know of. It’s important to check your child’s head regularly with conditioner even when you don’t think your child has head lice. There is no research to prove that chemical or herbal therapies can prevent head lice.

14.How does the conditioner and comb method work?
It’s a very cheap and effective way of finding head lice. Hair conditioner does not kill lice, but it does stun them for about 20 minutes, meaning they do not move around, and it is difficult for them to hang on. This gives you time to comb through the hair with a lice comb. This has proved to be an effective head lice home remedy

15. How does a chemical treatment work?
Only use products that are licensed or registered for head lice. There are four different active chemicals that target head lice, each works differently and aim to kill lice and/or eggs.

16. Do some products work better than others?
Over time, head lice may develop resistance to some chemicals. It is important to check if a treatment you used has worked, and if not, treat again with another product that has a different chemical.

17. Why do you have to treat again in a week time?
Head lice eggs take up to a week to hatch. And when you treat, it’s easy to miss an egg or two. By treating again in seven days, you are aiming to kill and comb out any lice that have since hatched from eggs, which were missed.

18. Should I treat everyone in the family?
It is important to check each family member, using conditioner and comb, for head lice but only treat those with live lice.

19. What should I wash or treat at home?
As head lice only live for a short time off the head, the only extra cleaning needed is to wash the pillowslip on the hot cycle or place in clothes dryer. Head lice combs can be cleaned in water hotter than 60 degrees.

20. Why does my child keep getting re-infected?
Re-infection is the least likely reason for head lice returning in a week’s time. If eggs do not die, or were not removed during the original treatment they may hatch and the head lice life cycle occurs all over again. To break this life cycle you must re-treat (regardless of treatment method) seven days after the first treatment and continue with weekly checking.

21. Does my child have to miss school?
According to the Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 2001, children with head lice may be readmitted to school after head lice treatment has commenced. A certificate from a doctor or council is not required before your child goes back to school. Children do not catch head lice from school, they catch it from other children when they gather together at schools. Head lice are not the fault of schools.

Do you know???
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that
An estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in the United States in children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head lice are most common among preschool children attending child care, elementary school children, and household members of children who have lice.

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