Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads, and bodies, including the pubic area. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood. Lice found on each area of the body are different from each other. Of the three types of lice that live on humans head lice, body lice, and “crab” (pubic lice, only the body louse is known to spread disease.
Lice infestations are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly.
Head lice are most easily spread among children who share clothing, hats, or very close contact in these classroom settings. The head louse makes no distinction between races, sexes, or economic classes of people and are not necessarily present due to neglect or unsanitary living conditions.
Symptoms of head lice include:
- Intense itching of the scalp
- Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders (bumps may become crusty and ooze)
- Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off
Lice on scalp and clothing may be difficult to see, unless there are a lot of them.
So, if you suspect head lice what should you do and who should you call? A pest control professional or your health care provider?
In the case of head lice, you do not need services such as Dave’s Pest Control. Begin tackling the problem with lotions and shampoos containing 1% permethrin (Nix) often work well. They can be bought at the store without a prescription. If these do not work, a doctor can give you a prescription for stronger medicine.
An important part of treatment is removing the eggs (nits). Certain products make the nits easier to remove. Some dishwashing detergents can help dissolve the “glue” that makes the nits stick to the hair shaft.
- You can remove the eggs with a nit comb. Before doing this, rub olive oil in the hair or run the metal comb through beeswax. This helps make the nits easier to remove.
- Metal combs with very fine teeth are stronger and more effective than plastic nit combs. These metal combs are easier to find in pet stores or on the Internet than in pharmacies.
- Removing eggs may prevent the lice from returning if the medication fails to kill every one of them.
- Treat children and adults with lice promptly and thoroughly.
- Wash all clothes and bed linens in hot water with detergent. This also helps prevent head lice from spreading to others during the short period when head lice can survive off the human body.
- Repeat combing for nits in 7 – 10 days.
Call your health care provider if symptoms continue after home treatment, or if you develop areas of red, tender skin, which could mean a possible infection.