Monday, January 21, 2019

Getting Rid of Head Lice: Treatment Options and Remedies

Get rid of head lice!
Getting a head lice diagnosis for your child can seem like the worst hair day imaginable for any parent. Many parents are frequently at a loss as to how the pesky bugs hitched a ride in their little ones’ scalps especially considering that lice are wingless creatures that cannot fly like mosquitoes or even jump like fleas. But don’t fear! There are several ways you can go about getting rid of these tiny sized insects.

Where Do Lice Come From?
If you suspect a case of lice infestation in your child, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there’s an estimated 6-12 million cases of head lice in the U.S. alone each year. Even the famous Cleopatra owned an elaborate set of nit combs, proving that lice know no class barrier! DNA testing has shown that human beings have been host to these creepy-crawly parasites for thousands of years, and the two species continue being closely acquainted.

Contrary to popular belief, head and body lice do not spread easily. Lice can only spread by crawling and are only capable of surviving outside a human host for no more than 24 hours. Lice mostly spread through direct head-to-head contact or sometimes through shared items like hats and brushes. Common situations that lead to the spreading of head lice in children include:
  • Sitting in close proximity with other infected children, friends, family members or strangers
  • Sleeping in the same bed with other kids e.g. during a slumber party
  • Sharing towels, pillows, hats, combs, brushes etc.
The presence of lice is not an indication of unclean conditions at your home. You don’t need to call pest control, fumigate your house or even treat your pets for lice.

How to Diagnose Head Lice Infection
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the gold standard for diagnosing head lice is through a visual inspection of the scalp and hair for signs of adult lice, their nymph (hatched young ones) or nits. To check for lice, lubricate your child’s hair with a standard hair conditioner then comb through using a fine-toothed comb or nit comb. Live lice can often be seen crawling slowly through the scalp and hair while nits appear as small white objects.

Another tell-tale sign is itching of the scalp. Lice bites cause an allergic reaction resulting in itching of the skin though this might not happen with a light infestation. Other common symptoms include:
  • Irritability
  • Red bumps on the head, neck and shoulders
  • A tickling feeling like something crawling through the hair

If you take your child to a doctor, he or she may use a special light called Wood’s lamp which causes nits to glow a bluish hue. However, it’s important to note that identification of nits does not automatically mean that your child has a live infestation. Nits need to live very close to the scalp to survive, and any nits found more than ¼ inches above the scalp are likely dead or empty. These nits might be leftovers from a previous infestation. The doctor might decide to use a microscope to confirm whether the nits are alive or dead.

It’s advisable to check all household members and close contacts as well. Head lice seem to have a high propensity for young ones, because children have thinner hair shafts than adults (hair gains girth with age).

Head Lice Treatment
Once you or your doctor has made a positive diagnosis, it’s now time to send these nasty joyriders packing, and hopefully stay put. There are two main treatments for head lice:
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) remedies
  • Professional head lice removal service

  1. OTC Products
In the CDC study above, 81% of respondents had used OTC products to treat lice. OTC medications are mainly based on a compound known as pyrethrin or its derivatives. Pyrethrin is derived from the chrysanthemum flower and is highly toxic to most insects, including lice, killing almost instantly on contact.

Wash your child’s hair using shampoo (but not conditioner) before using any of these treatments. Thoroughly rinse the hair using white vinegar to dissolve the glue that holds nits to hair shafts. Follow the manufacturer’s advice regarding how long to leave the medication in the hair before rinsing. Pyrethrin-based products are generally safe to use on children aged 2 years and above.

  1. Head Lice Removal Services
There are several businesses and hair salons that offer head lice removal as a service. If you have been having trouble with over the counter treatments and other chemicals that are just not doing the job, then head lice removal might be your best option.

Depending on your area, head lice specialists can arrive to your home, and perform the treatment there. Local businesses such as Lice Removal Portland have been providing affordable emergency treatments for several years. Similar companies operate on a local level, while other treatment clinics can service nationwide.

The methods used are mostly natural based and chemical free. Other methods such as the Airalle treatment only use heated air to kill both lice and nit eggs. Whatever the severity of your infestation is, a specialized lice removal business can have you lice-free within a few hours depending on the length of your hair and the level of infestation.

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