Have you noticed that your child is scratching her head a lot more than usual? Have you been experiencing crawling sensations on your own scalp? If so, then you may be suffering from a common scalp infection, known as lice. Commonly affecting children under the age of 12, head lice can cause some very uncomfortable symptoms. And, if you don’t seek hair lice treatment as soon as possible, there is a chance that those around you could become infected too! Fortunately, there are effective lice treatments available for your head lice.
What are Lice?
Lice are tiny parasitic insects that are clinically known as pediculus capitas. They can infest your scalp and neck by holding on to individual hair follicles with their six tiny claws. Lice feed off of human blood and cannot survive for more than 48 hours without a human host. Lice lay eggs known as nits, which are contained in tiny sacs that are attached to your hair follicles. These lice nits take about seven to ten days to hatch. When these baby lice (known as nymphs) mature, they too will lay eggs, perpetuating the infestation.
How Do You Get Lice?
You can get lice by coming into contact with any infected person. Infection generally occurs after:
- head-to-head contact
- contact with infected clothing, bedding, or towels
- using infected hair accessories (combs, barrettes, hair ties)
Who Gets Lice?
Lice are one of the most common infections found in North America. Lice is particularly rampant amongst schoolchildren, because these children tend to remain in close quarters. Lice are also common in dormitories, hospitals, and health care facilities. Though men can get head lice, women are more likely to contract the infection, probably because they are more likely to share hair care products, including hair ties, brushes, and combs.
What are the Symptoms of Lice?
If you are infected with head lice, you will probably experience many noticeable symptoms, including:
- severe itching along your neck and scalp
- crawling sensations beneath your hair
- the presence of live adult lice on your scalp or neck
- the presence of head lice nits along individual hair follicles
Getting Rid of Head Lice
If you are suffering from head lice, it is important to seek out appropriate treatment. The right lice remedy can help to relieve your symptoms and kill off any remaining lice or nits. This will help to break the cycle of the infection. The best way to get rid of a lice infection is to purchase a medicated shampoo. These shampoos are available at your local pharmacy or by prescription from your health care provider. The shampoos work to kill any live lice on the scalp and also help to remove remaining lice eggs. Be sure to follow the directions on the lice shampoo properly. When applied inaccurately these shampoos can burn the scalp and skin. You may need to repeat the shampoo process seven to ten days later, to ensure that all remaining lice are killed.
In order to ensure that you do not get reinfected with head lice, it is important to thoroughly clean your house and belongings. Be sure to:
- vacuum all carpets, rugs, and furniture.
- wash all clothing, towels, and bedding in hot water.
- store all clothes that can’t be washed in plastic bags for at least two days (this will kill off remaining lice).
- soak all hair accessories in rubbing alcohol or medicated lice shampoo for at least one hour.