Head lice are parasitic insects that thrive in sucking blood from a persons’ scalp. They measure approximately 1/10th of an inch, and may come in very light colors (almost translucent), pale yellow, or black. Their eggs (also called nits) are even smaller and can frequently be found attached to the hair shaft near the scalp.
Head lice do not have wings, so they cannot fly from one person to another. Instead, they crawl very fast and migrate from one place to another based on the proximity of their next target location.
No school or daycare should ever prevent a child from attending due to suspected or confirmed lice infestation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other trusted medical organizations around the world would agree.
Lice do not transmit diseases like the plague or bubonic pest.
Nevertheless, treatment should be prompted as soon as it is recognized in order to avoid infestation of the insects to a rate that will cause itch and discomfort. Ultimately, over-scratching the scalp may cause a lesion which then opens a door for bacterial infection to spread. In the event that this happens, it would require treatment with prescribed antibiotics.
A doctor visit is not necessary for lice infestation.
Anyone may confirm diagnosis at home by investigating the child’s head with a magnifying glass through small sessions divided by a fine comb. This is many times a tedious and time-consuming procedure which will not be provided at a doctor’s office.
There are several options for lice treatment both over-the-counter and prescription-based insecticides.
As a rule no doctor will prescribe a treatment if an over-the-counter option is available. Additionally, prescribed insecticides are expensive, somewhat ineffective, and most insurance carriers will not cover their cost.
A simple guideline on taking action in case your child is infected with head lice.
1. Confirm your suspicion by fine-combing your child’s hair, as mentioned above.
2. Choose the treatment you prefer; you may ask your pharmacist for advise on which treatment is most beneficial.
3. Follow instruction thoroughly. The great majority of failure is due to the lack of following directions.
4. Treat the whole family, as co-infestation is common in the same household.
5. Repeat treatment 7 days later.
6. Wash all the bedding, towels, clothes, and even stuffed animals with hot water (130®F) and dry with hot air.
7. For the items you can’t launder, place such items in a plastic bag for two weeks. All living lice usually dies after three days off of the head, and in about one week the nits will open, the new baby lice will die if they cannot find food (blood).
Regarding natural remedies and drug-free treatment, we believe they are the best for the health of the child. We have two suggestions of natural lice care:
Warm white vinegar and salt (I’ve been suggesting this for 30 years; IT HAS NEVER FAILED):
1. Mix warm white vinegar with equal parts of salt. Vinegar alone sometimes won’t be sufficient, but the combination with salt will kill both lice and the nits.
2. Apply to the entire top of the head, especially the scalp. Be sure to keep away from eyes.
3. Cover the top of the head with a shower cap for 2 hours.
4. Rinse the hair in a sink, then apply conditioner.
5. Comb the hair with a fine nit comb in small sessions to remove dead lice and nits.
6. Repeat entire process every 3 days for a total of 3 times.
As demonstrated above, it requires determination, and persistence, and adhering to directions in order to eliminate parasites. If you believe you fall short of these requirements and are unable to aid your child with lice infestation at home, please visit a local “Lice Spa” or similar establishment. They are friendly and convenient, will eliminate those pesky parasites in one visit. However, DO NOT EXPECT YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE to pay for it, especially Medicaid.
Furthermore, in the extremely unlikely and improbable event that you have diligently pursued all the suggested outlets and yet are still dealing with an insubordinate case (not a re-infestation, as in that case you should start all over again), then call your doctor for alternative options.
Always keep in mind that all drugs designed to treat insects are toxic to some extent, and may cause undesirable side effects ranging from scalp irritation to seizures (that’s how they eradicate the lice). There are other options for “natural” lice treatment based on tea tree oil and other mixtures of oils and vinegar. Please investigate how these options are suitable for you. We suggest the above mixture of vinegar and salt due to our long-term success of its use.
We hope this article helps you decide the plan of treatment in the unfortunate event of head lice infestation.