What is head lice?
Head lice are six-legged parasites that can be found in human hair. Only in human hair. They will not appear on any animals that you may have in your home. Each of these six legs are equipped with claws. This is what allows the lice to attach on the hair shaft and make them difficult to remove. Lice adapt to their environment by taking on the color of the hair they have inhabited, this is another reason its very difficult to spot and fully treat. They live close to the scalp due to the fact they feed on human blood several times a day. If you suspect yourself or your child have lice inspect close to the scalp around the ear and nape of the neck area to confirm.
Pictured below are examples of lice (live bugs) and nits (eggs on hair shaft) to show you what they may look like:
Where do they come from?
There is no definitive answer to this question, they have been around for millions of years. Physical and literary evidence shows them dating as far back as 16 B.C.
How did my child get lice?
Head-to-head contact is the most common way to get head lice. This can happen during play at school, at home, and elsewhere (sports activities, slumber parties, camp, or anywhere you child may have close contact with someone who is currently experiencing a problem with head lice).
Head lice can also be spread by sharing clothing or other types of belongings. This happens when lice crawl, or nits attached to shed hair hatch into bugs. The nits themselves are non-transferable unless the actual piece of hair they are attached to shed onto another persons hair and hatched.
- sharing clothing (hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms) or hair accessories (hair ribbons, barrettes, combs, brushes, towels, stuffed animals)
- lying on a bed, couch, pillow, or carpet that has recently been in contact with someone battling lice.
Dogs, cats, and other pets do not spread or harbor head lice.
What are the symptoms?
There are several symptoms that you or your child can experience to bring an infestation to your attention. Listed below are what you will need to look, you may have one or all of these symptoms
- a tickling or moving sensation on your scalp
- itching-which is caused by an allergic reaction to bites from the lice (not everyone will have this symptom)
- general irritability on your scalp that may cause trouble sleeping-lice tend to be more active at night
- sores on your scalp from scratching-which can lead to further problems like infection
- rash around the nape of the neck and ears
- possible low grade fever
Who should I notify that my child has lice?
It is recommended to notify anyone your child has had contact with in the last 2 weeks. School, extracurricular activities, play dates, camps, etc. Any place that your child may have had head-to-head contact with other children to ensure they are checked properly for possible infestation. Once you get it under control, you don’t want it back from one of their friends!
How long can lice live off the human head?
Lice feed several times a day and must have human blood. Fully adult head lice can only live 24-48 hours once away from a host. Nymphs (young head lice) can only live a few hours once away from a host. Nits generally die within a week once away from a host.
Pictured below is the life cycle of a louse to help better understand the timeline:
The life cycle of a louse is 30-33 days, however in that time a single louse can lay up to 200 eggs. This is why combing everyday is so important during an infestation.
Are lice dangerous?
Head lice have not been shown to carry any sort of diseases, just an irritating problem. There saliva-where they bite your scalp to feed- can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This is why some people itch when they have lice. There is more danger in having a reaction some of the chemically-based removal products on the market then the actual lice themselves.
Who is at risk of getting lice?
No one is immune to head lice. If you have been in contact with an infested person you are at risk.
Can head lice jump or fly?
No, the only way the transfer is by crawling.
When head lice transfer how soon can they start laying eggs?
If the head lice are fertilized females, they can begin almost immediately when they come in contact with a host. Something to keep in mind is that lice travel in groups consisting of 7-8 females to 1 male. With this many females laying up to 10 eggs a day a simple case of head lice can get out of hand very quickly.
How do you know if a nit is viable?
The only true way to tell is by looking under a microscope. But, there are a couple of ways to tell since we all obviously don’t have a microscope at home. A viable (likely to hatch and reproduce) nit has a nymph inside and is brown in color. These are likely to pop when pressed between your fingernails or feel raised when you run your fingers over it on the hair shaft. A non-viable nit does not have a nymph inside. The nymph has hatched and left behind its shell.
Why can’t you get rid of it on your own?
Home remedies, over-the-counter treatments and shampoos have harsh chemicals and pesticides. Due to this they can only be used every few days and on certain ages of children. More often than not these treatments will not kill all the lice and nits the first or even the second time of treatment. These factors along with not combing or cleaning properly can lead to a frustrating cycle or never ending lice. Even one nit left behind can launch a new infestation. Our trained technicians comb through and check each strand of hair to make sure that you or your child leave our office lice and nit free. Something that the over-the-counter products cannot guarantee. As previously stated our products are safe for everyday use, which will increase your chances of staying lice free once a removal is completed.
What and how do I need to clean?
*Bedding- Sheets, blankets, pillows and pillow cases, and towels should be washed in 130 degree water and put in the dryer for up to 45 minutes on high heat. This process will kill any lice and nits that may be on the material.
*Vacuuming-Any cloth furniture requires a good vacuuming. Couches, carpets, rugs, stuffed animals, cloth car interior and carseats are a few examples. Once finished immediately empty bag/canister into outside trashcan.
*Clothing-Any clothing worn in the past 2-3 days should be washed in 130 degree water and put in the dryer for up to 45 minutes on high heat.
*Toys-There is no need to clean any plastic toys. Any dolls or plush toys should be put into an air tight bag for up to 14 days to ensure any nits or bugs that may have attached are dead. Then can can be washed or vacuumed depending on the toy.
*Hair Accessories-Any hard plastic accessories such as combs, brushes, and barrettes should be soaked in a 130 degree water and bleach mix for up to 15 minutes. Any soft accessories such as headbands, hair ties, and scrunchies can be thrown away. If there is an attachment to such item it can also be bagged up for up to 14 days to ensure any nits or bugs that may have attached are dead. Anything else that cannot be washed but you are concerned was exposed to lice can also be bagged for up to 14 days.
*Combing- The life cycle of a louse from nit to full grown adult is 3-4 weeks. After our treatment and a thorough house cleaning we recommend that you comb the hair everyday for the next 2 weeks checking for nits. This reduces the risk of a repeat infestation.
Will health insurance cover my visit to your office?
Currently our office does not accept any type of medical insurance. But always keep your receipts for tax purposes, it may count towards medical expense deductions.
If my child has lice should I treat the whole family?
This is unnecessary. While you should exercise precautions there is no need to treat someone who has not shown any symptoms. It is important to check and watch for signs, but until a case of head lice is confirmed there is no need for needless treatment. You can always use our preventative shampoo, conditioner, and mint spray to help safe guard anyone in the family.
Why don’t we offer in-home removal services?
Great question! We pride ourselves in getting the job done right, the first time. That means using special equipment and lighting. Our treatment rooms are equipped with everything our technicians need to safely and effectively treat your child. We also carry our products in office so you are able to purchase anything you will need to continue treatment and prevention in the comfort of your own home.