Get to Know Head Lice Symptoms
Just thinking about head lice can make you start itching. If your school or daycare center has notified you that head lice have been detected, you’ll want to check your child (and yourself) immediately.
According to Darlene LaFramboise, owner of Lice Clinics of America- NOVA, here are some of the signs your child may have head lice:
- Scratching: If your child is scratching his or her head more than usual, it may be time to check for lice. The most common symptom of head lice is itching. This is because lice bites can cause an allergic reaction in some (but not all) people, which stimulates the itchy sensation. However, it can take a few weeks for this symptom to develop as more and more bugs hatch and start feeding.
- Tickling sensation: Some children experience a “tickly” feeling from lice bites or from lice touching their skin. This is a less severe reaction than the itching.
- Sores or scratch marks: If you see sores or scratch marks on your child’s head or neck, it can be a sign your child has an active lice infestation. Children often scratch harder than they need to, which can break the skin and cause sores and scabs.
- Disruption of sleep patterns: Head lice can make sleep difficult for youngsters. If your child is having a harder time than usual going to sleep or staying asleep, that might be a sign that head lice have invaded his or her scalp.
- Irritability: If your child is more irritable than usual, this can be an indication that head lice are present. Irritability often coincides with chronic itchiness and sleeplessness. These symptoms can combine, especially when an infestation is more mature.
It’s important to point out that an itchy scalp alone is not always an indication of head lice. “Itchiness can also be a symptom of other harmless conditions, such as dandruff, allergies, or a reaction to a hair product,” said Ms. LaFramboise. “But because of this, itchiness is easy to ignore. Make sure you do your due diligence and double check.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), misdiagnosis of head lice infestation is common. The most reliable symptom, of course, is the presence of a live louse or lice on a child’s head.
How to Check for Lice
“If you think your child might have been exposed to lice, we strongly recommend you do a lice screening. Checking your child’s head for lice is a simple process,” said Ms. LaFramboise. “Look at the nape area of the neck and around the ears. These are the locations where lice are most likely to live. They stay very near the scalp to stay warm and to lay their eggs (nits), within a quarter of an inch from the scalp. Head lice are about the size of a sesame seed. But lice can be difficult to find. We recommend you look for nits. You are looking for small white to brown specks the size of a grain of sand firmly attached to the hair shaft.” Nits are often confused with other particles found in hair such as dandruff, product residue and dirt particles. To confirm if they are nits, try to remove it with just your fingertips. Nits are firmly attached to the hair and not easily removed.
About Eggs (Nits)
Identifying and removing live lice is just one step in the lice treatment process. “It’s almost more important to identify and remove all eggs (nits). Live lice are in smaller numbers but there could be hundreds of nits. If all eggs are not killed or removed, they will hatch and you’ll have a fresh case of head lice on your hands,” said Ms. LaFramboise. “Lice eggs are tiny, camouflaged, and they stick with a strong glue-like substance to the hair. Finding and removing eggs, also known as nitpicking, requires a commitment to daily combing over the course of the lice two-week life cycle.”
“The most important thing to remember is to not panic,” says Ms. LaFramboise. “While a case of head lice can be stressful and frustrating for parents and children, please keep in mind head lice do not cause serious health problems. In addition, lice infestations are completely unrelated to personal hygiene. The only reason your child has lice is because he or she was unlucky enough to have close contact with someone else that had lice.”
The good news is that there is a technology in your neighborhood that makes treating head lice fast and easy. Lice Clinics of America’s AirAllé device is an FDA-cleared medical device, clinically proven to kill lice and eggs in as little as an hour, guaranteed. To learn more or to find a clinic near you, visit www.liceclinicsofamerica.com.
Lice Clinics of America has over 200 treatment centers in 20 countries, making it the world’s largest network of professional lice treatment centers. Lice Clinics of America – NOVA is located in Herndon and Falls Church, with another location coming to Loudoun County soon. Call 703-686-5253 or visit LiceRemovalNOVA.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.