EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT HEAD LICE
Between 6 and 12 million children are infested with head lice in the US each year according to the FDA.
Very often parents contract head lice from their children.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I Have Lice?
Adult lice will be the easiest to spot because they are the biggest. But at the size of a sesame seed, they still aren’t that big. Although lice vary in color, if you see a grayish-white or tan bug crawling through the hair, it is probably a louse. If you look closely at an adult louse, you should be able to see human blood inside it.
Look at the hair strands about a quarter inch (~0.5 cm) off the scalp. See if you can find lice eggs (often called nits) attached to individual hairs. Nits are extremely small. They look like tiny specks and will be glued pretty securely to the hair. If you see any, try pulling them off with your fingers. If you can’t easily pull them off, they are probably eggs and not dandruff.
How Can I Get Lice?
The primary way you can get head lice is when your head comes in direct contact with the head of an infested individual. Head-to-head contact like that doesn’t guarantee that the infestation will spread, but it gives lice the best opportunity to move from the hair of the infested person to your hair.
Head lice don’t jump, swim or fly. Without strands of hair to grab with the claws on their legs, they have trouble getting around at all. However, they can crawl pretty quickly along the hair, so if your hair comes in contact with an infested head, it doesn’t take much for a louse to hitch a ride on a strand of your hair and make its way to your scalp.
How Long Can Lice Live?
Excluding the 8-9 days they spend as eggs, head lice can live for around 40-45 days on your head. As parasites, they feed on human blood several times a day.
If they are removed from their food source – say from getting knocked out of your hair with a brush or your hand – they can survive 24-48 hours. If they don’t find some human hair to crawl back to a new host during that time, they will die.
How Can I Kill Lice?
There are many ways you can kill lice. You can suffocate them, poison them, or dry them out. You can also starve them if you get them away from their food source – your head – long enough (they’ll die within 24-48 hours).
What Should I Do After Treatment?
POST TREATMENT INSTRUCTIONS
Topics Covered in these instructions
- Hair and Head
- Ongoing Prevention
- Home Cleaning
Hair & Head
- Itching after treatment is common for a week to ten days. Lice bites are the same as mosquito bites, but much smaller. Therefore, itching is an after-effect of lice bites, and applying heat to those bites during treatment causes the itching to increase for a while.
- Since itching is a lingering symptom of lice bites, post-treatment itching is NOT a symptom of active lice. Unless you see LIVE lice bugs in the hair (not nits), you should assume that the itching is left over from before the treatment.
Getting oil out of your hair
- Option 1): Shampoo. Do several times to get all the oil out. If you think it’s not coming out, keep trying – it WILL come out.
- Option 2): Dishwashing soap. This should get the oil out with a single wash
- Option 3): Head and Shoulders. We have been told by many customers that Head and Shoulders shampoo is very good at getting the oil out AND helps with post-treatment itching.
Nits/eggs and other debris in the hair
- It is expected that you will have some nits left in your hair after treatment. The focus of our treatment (and our guarantee) is to KILL all the nits and lice on the head. To completely remove every nit from the head typically requires a multi-hour comb out, which is not part of our treatment process. Therefore, unless you see LIVE bugs in the hair, you can assume that all the nits are no longer viable (dead).
- There are several ways you can facilitate removing the dead nits: 1) Continue to use the nit comb over the next ten days throughout the entire head. And, 2) Every time you shampoo, rub your scalp vigorously; this will help break up and dislodge the nits.
- NOTE: Nits/eggs that “pop” when you squeeze them between your fingernails does NOT indicate that the nits/eggs are “alive.” This is a widely perpetuated lice-myth.
Re-Checks after treatment
- The ONLY reason a re-check would be necessary is in the event you are seeing live bugs. It is NOT necessary to come back to the clinic for a re-check “just to make sure” the treatment worked.
- If you would like a re-check, we offer them for $25/person. If the re-check occurs within the 30-day guarantee window AND we determine that the treatment was ineffective for any reason, we will waive the re-check fee.
- Girls: wear hair as tight as possible. Tight hair means less surface area for a louse to latch onto your head
- Become very aware of any situation where you might touch the heads of other people, or you touch things that might have touched other peoples’ heads, and then avoid those situations.
- DO NOT, under any circumstances, put anything in your hair or on your head that has touched someone else’s head.
- Do periodic combing with a nit comb.
- Spritz peppermint spray on your head any time you go into a situation where there is a high risk of lice infestation.
IMPORTANT facts about lice
- Head lice cannot survive without a human host for more than 24 hours.
- Lice CANNOT fly, jump, burrow, and cannot even crawl very well.
- Therefore, it is ONLY necessary to treat items in your house that have come in contact with an infested persons’ head within the last 24 hours
All clothing and bedding that might have touched an infested persons’ head in the last 24 hours should either be:
- Washed in HOT water and then dried on high heat for 2 cycles
- Placed DIRECTLY into a hot dryer for 30 minutes or more (DO NOT wash before putting into the dryer)
Items that cannot be dried may be isolated or placed in a plastic bag for 24 hours.
- Items made of leather, plastic or vinyl may be wiped clean with a paper towel and an ammonia-based window cleaner (like Windex).
- Anything else made of cloth should be vacuumed. You can cover furniture with a clean sheet or blanket for 36 hours.
- Throw pillows can be put in a hot dryer for 30 minutes or isolated in a plastic bag.
- Don’t’ forget to vacuum child carriers.
- Vacuum rugs and carpets
Brushes, Combs & Hair Accessories
- Place items in boiling-hot water for 2 minutes. Bring a pan of water to a boil, REMOVE from the heat and then place brushes/combs into the hot water.
- Or freeze for 24-36 hours
Toys & Stuffed Animals
- Store them in a plastic bag for 36 hours or they can go in a dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. All other toys may be wiped clean or kept isolated in a plastic bag for 24 hours.
Backpacks & Helmets
- Vacuum or wipe down backpacks and helmets or isolate in a plastic bag for 24 hours.