What Causes Head Lice Infestation and How are Lice Spread?
What causes head lice?
Head lice cannot jump, nor crawl very far. Head lice are extremely well adapted to moving through the hair of their host however.
Head lice affect people from all socio-economic classes and all walks of life. Head lice actually prefer clean hair, as greasy hair is difficult for lice to attach their eggs to. Contrary to popular belief, regular washing will not prevent or deter head lice. In fact, it attracts them.
Head lice do not infect pets or other animals, as they do not feed on anything but human blood.
Where do head lice come from?
Head lice have probably been around since time began. They are a human parasite and can only survive on humans, so therefore do not reside in the ground or on pets. Head lice simply travel from host to host. They are not fussy where they live as long as it is clean so they can attach their eggs.
You are very unlucky if you catch head lice from clothing or bedding. It has been proven in many studies that head lice are transferred through head to head contact alone, and not through any other means.
Watch when two children play together. If they are concentrating on something with heads touching, the head louse will simply be travelling through the hair, and transfer readily to another head. It may not even do this on purpose.
Do I need to rid my home of lice and eggs and wash everything in hot water to stop the spread of head lice?
Under normal circumstances, the life of a louse separated from the head can be measured in hours rather than days as the adult louse is highly susceptible to dehydration and will quickly starve.
Adults and nymphs are only able to survive for 2-3 days off the host in optimal conditions. Most conditions are not optimal. Lice need warmth, humidity and food. They do not find this anywhere but the human head.
It is preferable to take preventative steps to ensure they don’t return to the head than to the home. Eggs can survive away from the head for up to 7 days but will not hatch without the warmth of a human host. With this in mind it is fairly obvious that compulsively cleaning is not required in preference to killing all the adult lice and eggs.
Vacuuming and wiping surfaces with hot soapy water is all that is required to rid your home of head lice. Do not be persuaded to use pesticide bombs that unnecessarily expose your family to dangerous chemicals.
The Life Cycle of Lice
Lice have a predictable, short life cycle that is geared toward producing the most offspring possible in as short a time possible. One female louse can lay as many as 300 eggs in its 30-to-50-day lifespan. That makes it important to understand how prolific each louse can be and how important it is to treat lice in two or more different ways to make sure that each louse is dead and that the lice that are present don’t stay long enough to lay eggs.
The first stage of the life of a head louse is the egg, which the adult attaches to the hair with nit glue very close to the scalp for warmth. This glue is very strong and makes manual removal very difficult.
In 5-9 days the egg hatches into the nymphal stage which is the early stages of the adult louse. The term ‘nit’ refers to the empty shell left behind once the egg has hatched. The nymph immediately seeks out a suitable place to feed.
Over the next 7-10 days the nymphs will shed their exoskeleton in three separate metamorphoses before they mature into adult lice.
Those nymphs are tiny and hard to see, but after 12 days those nits will be adult lice.
Once mated, the adult female louse can then lays around 4-10 nits a day until the end of her adult life (around 30 days). Dead lice sometimes turn black and can be seen as tiny black flecks close to the scalp.
At firstt, you will need to find something that will kill the lice now, and worry about the eggs second.
In order to control them with a remedy that does not kill eggs (almost all of them), you need to time it so you kill all the live lice before they are capable of laying more eggs.
So, if you kill all the live lice in the hair, and the first egg hatches immediately afterwards, you have 7-10 days before that louse is capable of laying eggs. So, one week later, use your remedy again, and all hatched nymphs are dead.
If the next louse hatches immediately after that treatment, again, you have seven more days before it starts to lay eggs.
You can now go back to using prevention methods to ensure they never return.
Get Rid of Head Lice
To get rid of lice is far more complicated than most people understand before head lice becomes their problem. Most people who have never had a head lice infestation believe that simply using a lice killing shampoo will get rid of lice once and for all. In reality, studies have shown that only about 20 percent of the head lice of today can be killed by lice killing shampoo. After decades of using lice killing shampoo, using a shampoo poison is just the first step in getting rid of lice.
After using a lice killing shampoo, 80 percent of the head lice will be left, and getting rid of those lice can take time. Some people find killing lice harder than others, and it may take several attempts, using a few different types of lice killing techniques before the head lice infestation is gone for good.
Lice shampoo comes in many different varieties to kill lice in a multitude of ways. There are lice shampoo products on the market, such as Nit Free, and Licenex that use a blend of enzymes to kill lice without using harsh poisons. Some lice shampoo products use tea tree oil to keep lice from attaching to the scalp and to drive away the ones that are already there.
There are some head lice shampoo types that use pesticides to kill lice with poison. Premethrin is the poison that most over-the-counter lice shampoos contain. Rid lice shampoo is one such shampoo that uses this poison. Rid lice shampoo is considered safe to use on children, but there can be some side effects. Some people who have used it say that it can result in nosebleeds as well as the occasion gray hair, even in young children. However, it will lessen the number of lice on the head, even if it is only by about 20 percent.
Hedrin lice treatment is an oil that is available only in the U.K. Hedrin is used to kill lice by preventing the bugs from being able to release moisture from their bodies, as lice do regularly throughout the day. After about eight hours, the lice literally explode from retaining all of their moisture. Because the lice are so tiny, this doesn’t result in any mess- just dead lice.
Lice combs make extremely effective lice treatments because they work with the size and habits of lice to remove them from the hair. Lice combs work similarly to flea combs. If you have ever flea combed a dog, you may have noticed that the teeth of the lice comb are so close together that the fleas are unable to pass through them. Lice combs work the same way, removing the lice as the comb is brought through the hair.
Nits- How to Get Rid of Them.
When you contract head lice, one of the most embarrassing aspects are the little pearly white droplet shaped head lice eggs that attach themselves to the base of the scalp. Here is all you need to know about how to remove nits.
What Are Nits? Define Nits:
The head lice nit is the dead egg. This is the shell that is left behind once the head louse has hatched.
Pictures Head Lice Nits
Here is what head lice nits look like:
How Long Do Nits Stay Alive?
If the eggs is attached to the scalp they will live until they hatch. If they are away from the scalp, say if they fell out attached ot a hair, they will live for 7 days, but they are doomed. There is no need to worry about nits falling out of the hair and reinfesting others. They need the warmth of the scalp to hatch, and without this, they will die.
There is no way they can find their way back to the scalp once they fall out attached to a hair, so it is bye bye louse egg.
It is the live lice that does the reinfesting.
Where Does Nits Come From?
Which comes first, the head lice or the egg? It is inevitably the louse. It has been proven in many studies that head lice are transferred through head to head contact alone, and not through any other means. You are very unlucky if you catch head lice from clothing or bedding.
When two children are playing together with heads touching, the head louse will simply be travelling through the hair, and transfer readily to another head. It may not even do this purposely.
Getting rid of lice nits (eggs) is one of the hardest parts of killing lice. The eggs are tiny and almost clear. The lice attach them to the hair with a special glue that is difficult to dissolve. Shampoos, oils and lice poisons don’t kill or get rid of the nits in most cases. They can be removed by very strict lice combing in order to remove them from each strand that they may be attached to.
How To Loosen Nits From Hair
The most common way to remove nits is to soak the hair in vinegar and leave to dry. Leave overnight. Wash out in the morning. The egg glue should be soft and rubbery. The nits should slide right out. Apple cider vinegar is well known for it’s healing properties and may also sooth a scratched scalp.
Do You Need To Comb Out Nits After Malathion or Other Treatment?
The answer unfortunately with any over the counter head lice treatment is yes. The OTC hair lice treatment formulae all say they kill eggs, but they don’t kill every single one. If you have just one, it will hatch, and the infestation starts again.
Olive Oil Lice Treatment
The olive oil lice treatment is often called the “secret” lice treatment. This treatment is sold in ebooks and touted in videos, and for good reason. This treatment may not be easy to execute, but there are many benefits to using it. And, it can be extremely effective.
Tea Tree Oil Lice Treatment
Like the olive oil lice treatment, the tea tree oil lice treatment uses an oil to smother the lice. However, it can do other things as well. Tea tree oil is a substance that head lice can’t stand. You can smother head lice with tea tree oil by leaving it on the head for eight hours, but it is also possible to use it for a shirt amount of time to loosen the lice from the scalp and to make it easier to to a lice comb to kill lice.
Again, tea tree oil will not kill nits. It will prevent head lice however by making you ‘invisible’ to head lice. If a head louse transfers to anything but a human, it will die. So it never does. They didn’t get this far and survive this long by being stupid.
When a louse smells tea tree oil it doesn’t regard you as human, it regards you as a tree. A head louse is not going to transfer to a tree, because it will die. So you have technically made yourself invisible to the wee nasty.
Mouthwash Lice Treatment
Mouthwash is a lice treatment that many people swear by. Though it may sound strange, mouthwash can temporarily calm the itching of a lice infestation, and the moisture of the mouthwash can aid in the removal of the lice. To use mouthwash as a lice remedy, put a towel around your shoulders, lean back and pour mouthwash slowly onto the front part of your hairline. This will allow the mouthwash to trickle backward throughout your hair. Be sure to keep the mouthwash away from the eyes.
Poison Lice Treatments
LiceGuard Repellent Spray: This helps to prevent head lice. The non-aerosol spray has a smell humans find pleasant but head lice can’t stand.
It may come as a shock to know that most head lice treatments on the market today are not legally allowed to be labeled as ‘safe.’
The treatments for head lice (or pediciulicides) that you buy over the counter are inevitably pesticides, and should be at best avoided.
The chemical agents affect the central nervous system of both the pest, and unfortunately the host as well.
When treating head lice of children, most parents don’t realise these chemical preparations contain the same pesticides used in rat poison, lawn treatments and fly spray!
Even if used 100% as directed, these chemical agents have the potential to do serious harm.
To make matters worse, children absorb more of the chemical treatments for head lice because they have a higher percentage of scalp surface per kilo of body weight, so they are especially at risk. They don’t deal with toxic chemicals as well as adults, making them particularly vulnerable to toxic threats.
There are many home remedies for head lice, many are sometimes successful, some are downright dangerous. Here are some home remedies for head lice and some you should avoid.
The most commonly touted home remedy for head lice is mayonnaise.
It must be remembered that mayo is made of eggs and oil. Salmonella anyone? If you must try and smother lice, try plain olive oil, baby oil or thick conditioner.
Another home remedy for head lice is tea tree oil.
On it’s own, tea tree oil will not kill head lice. It will repel them as they will no longer regard you as human, so will not transfer to you. Transferring to anything but a human means certain death, so they don’t do it.
Another home remedy for head lice is vinegar.
Vinegar will loosen the eggs, but it will not kill lice. Use this after you have used a natural treatment to remove the live lice, so you can get rid of the eggs.
Never, ever use:
Kerosene. This is extremely flammable and highly toxic. Never use it on your child’s highly permeable scalp.
Alcohol: Once again, the scalp absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it.
Flea Shampoo or Spray: One question I come up against time and time again, especially at Yahoo Answers is: Does dog shampoo kill head lice?
The answer is yes. But these chemical pesticides are even more dangerous than the chemicals in head lice shampoo because they are not intended for human use. Never, ever use a treatment intended for use on animals.
Will bleach kill head lice? Yes again. But it is also highly toxic, and can burn the skin. This is an incredibly dangerous method. You are better off getting an OTC remedy, and that is saying something.
Using roach spray to kill head lice: Please, please don’t use fly spray, roach spray or anything else that is highly toxic on your children to kill head lice. Your child’s scalp is highly permeable, and absorbs up to 60% of anything you put on it. Where there is even a risk of permanent brain damage or even cancer, a small risk is too much. Please don’t do it.
Vaseline to Kill Lice
Vaseline is sometimes used to try to kill lice. Does it work? Well, yes and no. It can work to kill lice if it left on for eight hours or more. Like any thick substance, Vaseline petroleum jelly can be used to suffocate lice if it is left on the scalp, coating the lice, for eight hours or more. This allows it to circumvent the respiration system of lice who can hold their breath for eight hours.
Using Mayonnaise to Treat Head Lice – The Well Known Mayonnaise for Lice Treatment
As disgusting as it sounds, and is, mayonaise head lice treatment is successful because it blocks the breathing holes of the lice, smothering them and preventing them from feeding.
Drowning head lice in water is out of the question, but mayonnaise will kill head lice.
Head lice can be smothered with mayo, as long as you are able to cover the lice completely. Head lice can block their breathing holes for up to 8 hours. Thick, greasy mayo does do this quite well.
Some people may find putting this gooey, smelly mixture in my hair that is off-putting in the extreme. Surely there has to be something a little less eggy and oily to kill head lice?
If smothering your lice is your chosen method of removal, there are many different options that are available, that don’t involve egg yolks, warmth and children.
1. Thick white conditioner to smother head lice. Make sure there is a lot and it is thick. Coat your child’s hair in the morning and leave on all day. After an hour you can comb through and manually remove stunned lice.
2. Baby oil to kill head lice: Comb hair thoroughly through with the baby oil and cover with a shower cap. Place a sweat band around the base of the cap so that the oil does not run into the child’s eyes. You can leave this for a few minutes and then comb the stunned lice out while they are trapped in the oil, or leave for 8 hours for the lice to smother.
3. Olive oil to get rid of head lice: is also a popular remedy and is another method of smothering or stunning lice. It also dissolves the exoskeletons of the lice, making it the most effective option.
Remember-Smothering does not kill the nits, only manual removal will get them all out, or a natural remedy that kills both lice and nits. With all of these remedies, all, and I’m talking ALL of the nits must be removed manually.
Does tumble dryer kill head lice?
Yes. Head lice and eggs die at 60 degree Celsius.
Does hair dye kill head lice?
Yes it does. A lot of things kill head lice. It will not kill the eggs, and this is your main concern.
Does corn oil kill head lice louse?
Any oil will smother head lice, but again, it will not kill the nits.
Can I kill head lice with vinegar?
Vinegar may kill some of the lice, but it will not kill the eggs. This is used to help remove the nits once all the lice have been safely killed with a natural head lice home treatment.
Will salt water kill head lice?
Yes, it will suck all the moisture out of them, but not the eggs.
Baby oil to kill head lice?
Any oil will smother head lice.
Will alcohol kill head lice?
Yes but this is not recommended. Alcohol is flammable, and the scalp absorbs anything you put on it.
Does Vinegar Kill Head Lice?
Vinegar is widely thought of as a cure for head lice.
The truth is, you can’t kill head lice with vinegar.
It helps to dissolve the nit glue, but will not kill lice.
Shave Head to Cure Head Lice?
For males, it can be an option, as the adult louse needs at least 1cm of hair to attach the egg to. They also need humidity, and with hair that short, it is an extremely hostile environment.
For females I understand how frustrating it can be, but the effects can be devastating. If she is willing, and the absolute end of the tether has been reached, a funky short style could be thought about.
Consider removing all lice from the hair with an electronic nit comb. Then cover the hair in vinegar and let dry. Leave this in overnight.
In the morning, the eggs should be rubbery and wash out. Then you can take her to a hairdresser, where a short style can be part of a prevention program to ensure they never return.
Shaving the head of a child with head lice is an overwhelmingly drastic measure and should be avoided at all costs.
This is incredibly traumatic for a child, and the taunts from other children are worse than the head lice.
Finally-Always have a head lice nit comb handy.
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