The FAQs of Lice

What are head lice?

Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis, have been recorded as far back as the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. What do lice and nits look like? They are tiny, crawling insects that live on the human scalp. Parasites that survive by sucking small amounts of blood from the head, lice cannot survive without a human host for more than 24 hours. The lice life cycle begins when a female louse (singular for lice) attaches its egg (or nit), to the base of the hair shaft. It takes 7-10 days for the egg to hatch. It will take another 7-10 days for the nymph (immature louse) to grow into an adult. Lice can live on the human host for 30 days. A female louse may lay about 6 eggs a day averaging more than 100 eggs in a month.

How do you get head lice?

Head lice are most commonly acquired through head-to-head contact with an infested person’s hair. It may also be transmitted through the sharing of personal items such as brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, scarves, helmets and towels or by sitting or laying on an upholstered piece of furniture or bedding that an infested person was recently on. 

They do not jump, hop or fly!

 

Photos of Head Lice – What do lice and nits look like?

Click here for pictures.

 

How to get rid of head lice?

Lice have become resistant to many over-the-counter and prescription treatment products. Even if they kill some or all of the bugs, they do not kill the nits (eggs). If you don’t remove the nits they will hatch into new bugs and start the infestation all over again. At Lice Connection, we know how to get rid of head lice quickly and safely. Lice cannot develop an immunity to the natural enzyme shampoo that we use for lice treatment because lice use enzymes as part of their bodily functions, such as molting. More importantly, it loosens the glue that holds the nits onto the hair making them easier to remove. Once the nits are loosened, they need to be combed out of the hair. Combing and inspection are key in lice and nit removal. To comb effectively, you should use the best nit comb available.

Can I just shampoo once and be done?

If getting rid of head lice was that easy you probably wouldn’t be reading this. It takes more than just shampooing to break the cycle of lice. Treatment shampoos may kill lice, but you must also remove all of the nits (eggs) so they do not hatch into new bugs. The best way to remove nits is with a good metal nit comb…one that has long teeth that are very close together. The plastic nit combs that come with most treatment products are ineffective at removing nits. Even the best metal nit comb does not remove every single nit. You must also perform a visual check and manually remove any remaining nits from the hair.

To purchase the metal nit comb used by most professionals or to learn how to properly use one, contact Lice Connection® at 914-666-LICE! Or better yet, we can do all of the work for you!

How do I de-louse my house?

Lice can only survive for 24 hours off of the human scalp. They are not breeding in your sofa or in your beds. Your house is not infested. However, a lingering bug or nit on a couch or bed could potentially re-infest someone. To avoid spreading head lice to others or becoming re-infested, we recommend you wash the infested person’s bedding in hot water and dry it with high heat. Vacuum upholstered furniture and floors to pick up any stray hairs that might carry lice or nits.

There is no need to throw anything away. Pillows and stuffed animals may be placed in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes. Brushes, combs, hair accessories can be placed in hot water. Boil water, take it off the flame and let the items soak for 5 minutes. Anything that can’t be cleaned may be put away for two weeks until the lice are gone. No need to go overboard cleaning or to purchase special detergents or furniture sprays. For advice on how to delouse your house, call  Lice Connection® at 914-666-LICE!

Do I have to put all of my child’s belongings in a plastic bag for 2 weeks to suffocate the bugs?

You are not suffocating anything by placing it in a plastic bag…head lice die within 24-48 hours once they are off your head. But head lice have a 2 week life cycle and you are not considered lice free until you have had no sign of lice for 2 weeks. During that time, you need to vacuum upholstered furniture where the infested person sits and put their bedding in the dryer daily, so instead of cleaning certain items every day, put them away until you are sure the lice are gone…such as decorative pillows, blankets or stuffed animals that are normally kept on the bed, or any throw pillows that are on the couch. Nothing needs to be thrown out!

If my child is not itchy does that mean they don’t have lice?

Some people have hundreds of bugs and nits and don’t feel a thing. I can’t explain how that is, but I see it all the time.  Being itchy can be a sign that you may have lice, so it is always a good idea to take a closer look. Many people are allergic to the saliva of the bugs and may have a reddish rash behind their ears or the back of their neck. Some parents assume that their child does not have lice because they are not scratching their head or complaining of an itchy scalp. So if you get a note home from school stating that head lice is going around, check your children’s heads whether they are scratching or not. To learn how to check for head lice go to www.liceconnection.com/videos.

 

*Informational links

National Pediculosis Association
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Harvard School of Public Health
For clients we cannot accommodate, we recommend calling Dale Longworth, The Lice Expert of Dobbs Ferry/Westchester: 914-424-1367