You are at work or home minding your own business, when you get the dreaded call from your child’s school, there is a lice outbreak and lice have been found on your child. You go to the school, pick up your child and are probably thinking some of the following things: What do I do with this kid? How do I prevent my whole family from becoming affected? And most importantly, how do I get rid these head lice? Well, luckily for you, you’ve come to the right blog.
Let’s first talk quickly about the different types of lice, because yes, unfortunately there is more than one kind! There are actually three different types of lice that use humans as their host to feed off of- head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis), body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis), and pubic louse (Pthirus pubis). It is important to understand that “head lice” is a different species than body or pubic lice; meaning head lice won’t be found on the body or pubic region, they are specific to the head.
Head lice are tiny insects that cannot fly or jump. They travel from person to person through close personal contact and/or on personal items (clothing, hats, blankets, etc.) They are parasitic, and adults feed on blood from the human scalp. Adults are small but under careful examination, they can be seen by the human eye. Adults lay their sticky eggs or “nits” at the base of the hair shaft near the scalp. The eggs are very small and are an off white or yellowish color.
Now that you know some background information about lice let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of how to get rid of them once someone has become their host. First thing first- don’t panic, the good news is that head lice aren’t known to carry bacteria or infectious disease and they are not a reflection of hygiene or cleaning practices. Lice can affect any person that has the misfortune of coming into direct contact with lice. Listed below are some tips for getting rid of head lice.
The first step you should take is to purchase and use an over the counter treatment. Over the counter medications for lice usually include pyrethroid-based active ingredients. Closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the package and please note that it can sometimes take two full treatments to see the complete elimination of lice and nits. If results are not starting to be noticed within a few days, you may need to contact your family’s physician in order to obtain a prescription head lice treatment. Many head lice species have developed a resistance to over the counter products. After treatment, use a nit comb routinely to comb through the hair to remove any remaining eggs from the affected person’s head.
After treatment is complete you can help to prevent lice from choosing you or your family by using preventative shampoos and conditioners. You can find these at most large retail pharmacies and department stores. In a school setting, it is a recommended that you pull back your child’s hair if it is fairly long and to remind them not to share hats and clothing with friends.
Treatment of belongings
If lice have been introduced into your home all bedding, towels, pillows, stuffed animals, outerwear and hats must be washed (preferably in hot water) and dried in a hot dryer cycle for at least 20 minutes. Items that cannot be washed should be put into sealed plastic bags for two weeks; lice cannot survive for more than few days without a human host to feed off of.
Here at Adam’s Pest Control, we provide free pest identification services, so if you think you have discovered an adult, nymph or nit on yourself or someone else, send our experts a picture and they will happily identify whether the suspect is indeed lice and if so what specific species it is!