Head lice are globetrotters. These little critters can be found everywhere no matter what country you’re in. But how do they get around? Head lice don’t fly, jump or swim. Head lice are about 2 to 3 mm in length and have six legs. Each leg has a claw. They crawl from one person to another using their claws to grab onto strands of hair. And they can crawl fairly quickly along the hair. If your hair comes in close contact with an infested person, the louse easily hitches a ride on one of your hair strands and makes its way to your scalp. When a female louse makes it onto your head, she will begin to lay lice eggs. Those eggs will hatch, and the adult females will continue to lay eggs. Unless, the lice and eggs are killed, the infestation will continue.
Where and How Head Lice Travel
Head lice get around through both direct and indirect contact. Kids will often hug each other and play closely to one another. With this type of direct head-to-head contact, it makes it easy for a louse to go from one child’s head to another’s head. Although much less common, head lice can also travel by indirect contact with personal items that the infested person used. Hats, combs, sports helmets, gym towels and even barrettes used or shared by the infested person are indirect mediums that make it easy for lice to get around. That’s why it’s important for your child to have their own personal items at school. At home, household items used by an infested person may allow for lice to travel. These items include bed linens and pillows.
Putting a Halt to Louse Travel Plans
No one wants a visit from head lice. There are steps that you can take to keep head lice from spreading and coming back. Any washable items used by the infested person should be washed in hot water, including bed linens, scarves and hats. The dryer should be set on high heat, and items should be dried for at least 20 minutes. Soak brushes, combs and scrunchies in 2-percent Lysol or 10-percent bleach for one hour.
Every year, 6-12 million school-age students get head lice. Staff and school nurses play an important role in identifying head lice. According to the National Association of School Nurses, “Children found with live head lice should remain in class but be discouraged from head-to-head contact with other children.” Furthermore, the organization also recommends that a school nurse should contact the parents of an affected child and render advice on treatment.
Identifying and Treating Head Lice
Head lice and nits are often found after careful inspection of the scalp and hairline. Dr. Parade Mirmirani, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends, “See if your child has lice by sitting him or her under a bright light and separating hair into sections. Search each section for eggs — called nits — that look like tiny seeds attached to the hair. One quick way to recognize lice is that, in contrast to dandruff, the nits cannot be easily removed from the hair.”
Finding live lice in the hair or scalp typically indicates an infestation, and treatment is required. All household members and other close contacts, such as relatives and friends should be checked for head lice. Anyone showing signs of head-lice symptoms should be treated. Symptoms usually develop within six weeks of initial infestation and may include a tickling feeling on the scalp, trouble sleeping and sores from scratching.
The Lice Clinics of America clinic in Fairfax uses revolutionary technology that has been shown to kill head lice and 99.2 percent of its eggs. Its FDA-cleared, patented medical device, marketed as AirAllé®, offers families in the Fairfax area a truly effective, eco-friendly, toxic-free and solid alternative to prescription drugs, multi-week self-treatment regimen of topical shampoos, pesticides and combing. With clinics in more than 20 countries, Lice Clinics of America is the world’s largest network of independently owned lice-treatment clinics. Turn to Lice Clinics of America for safe, effective treatment for head lice, or visit their website to learn more on how they can get you lice-free.