Head lice are equal opportunity parasites; they don't care who you are or how clean your hair is. They just want to eat your blood. Frequent hair washing has nothing to do with preventing head lice. There are some ways you can decrease the risk of having head lice.
What are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny insects that live on the human head and feed off human blood. They do not live on animals, nor do animals transmit lice. Lice can grow up to three millimeters and can be white, brown or grey colored. Usually you cannot see the lice, but notice instead the eggs, or nits.
Lice move quickly and don't like bright light, so when you're inspecting the scalp of a person with lice, look instead for the nits, which you will find close to the scalp, attached to a strand of hair. Nits may be yellow, white or clear and will look like dandruff, but cannot be easily brushed from the hair.
Life Cycle of the Louse
The louse can lay as many as 90 eggs in the 30 or 40 days of its life. Those eggs incubate in 7 to 10 days, hatch, and then begin reproducing about a week later. It's easy to see why lice infestations happen so quickly. Lice can last off the human host for up to two days, but this is not very common. Still, if a person in your house has lice, it's best to wash all the bedding, clothing and towels just in case there are any lice present. Missing even one louse can result in another infestation.
Treating Head Lice
Head lice are usually treated with an over the counter pediculicide, or pesticide which will get rid of the lice and their eggs. There are also prescription medications which are more potent and can be used for hard to remove lice. Both treatments may run the risk of simply making the lice stronger; in the way bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics, it has happened where lice becomes resistant to pediculicides.
Alternative Treatments for Head Lice
Some parents prefer alternative treatments for head lice. Some may use olive oil, mayonnaise, petroleum jelly or other substances. Many parents who aren't sure of using pediculicides on their children turn towards home remedies first, considering pediculicides only if the home treatment doesn't work. There exist all natural lice shampoos on the market that are preferred for there safeness on a child's head.
Combing Most Effective Treatment
Other treatment for lice is frequent fine toothed combing. A fine toothed lice comb can be purchased at any pharmacy or online.
Tips to Prevent Head Lice
To prevent an infestation of head lice, try these tips:
- Educate children about how head lice can spread and how to prevent it from happening.
- Don't share hats, scarves, hoods or anything else with other people.
- Store your coat on a chair rather than tucked in among many other coats.
- Educate yourself on your child's school's lice policy to ensure that you'll be notified immediately if there is an infestation.
- Check your child frequently and regularly for lice or nits.
- Take immediate action if you notice itching or head lice.