Head lice and nits are tiny, wingless insects. They’re oval-shaped, about the size of a sesame seed. They live on the human scalp, and their preferred habitat is a human scalp.
Head lice and nits are called nits because they lay their eggs in the scalp. When the eggs hatch, they form small nymphs with six legs. These nymphs are able to reproduce.
Head lice are known to spread disease through their bites.
What are the symptoms of head lice?
Symptoms of head lice are usually noticeable.
Symptoms of head lice include:
- A bump or sore on the head
- A small, red bump or sore on the forehead
- A red bump or sore on the neck
- Small, white, or yellowish spots on the scalp
- A small red rash on the neck, forehead, or cheeks
- A small red rash on the chest, back, or arms
- A red rash on the scalp
- A red rash or spots on the legs
- A red rash on the face, chest, or arms
- A rash around the eyes
How are head lice diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually diagnose head lice by looking at the bumps or sores on your scalp. You may be able to see the lice with a magnifying mirror.
Your doctor will likely ask you about your personal and family medical history. They may also ask you about your school, work, and recreational activities.
They may also ask you about your scalp and any recent head lice treatments.
Your doctor may also do a physical examination of your scalp. You may be asked to remove your hair while your doctor examines the bumps and sores.
What are the treatment options for head lice?
There are several treatments for head lice. They include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments
- Prescription treatments
- Combination treatments
To treat head lice, it’s important to do a lot of home care.
Follow these steps to treat head lice:
- Wash your head with warm, soapy water each day.
- Use an OTC head lice treatment once or twice a week.
- Use a prescription treatment every day.
- Shampoo your hair as often as your doctor or pharmacist recommends.
- Don’t use hair dye products or hair care products with alcohol.
- Don’t use hair relaxers or other products that can dry out your hair.
- Don’t use shampoos or conditioners with a strong smell.
Over-the-counter treatments can help get rid of head lice.
You can treat head lice with:
- Permethrin shampoo. Permethrin is a strong chemical that kills head lice and their eggs. It comes in a liquid or shampoo that you apply to your scalp. You’ll usually need to use it a few times a week.
- Rid or Rid™ lotion. Rid™ lotion is a thick, white cream that you rub on your scalp. It contains a form of the chemical permethrin that’s toxic to lice. You’ll usually need to use it once a day.
- Nix™ lice shampoo. Nix™ is a shampoo that contains a chemical called pyrethrin. Your doctor or pharmacist may recommend it instead of Permethrin shampoo.
Your doctor might prescribe a stronger prescription head lice treatment.
- Imidacloprid is an insecticide that can kill head lice. It comes in a liquid that you apply to your scalp.
- Permethrin is a chemical that your doctor or pharmacist can give you. It’s a strong insecticide that kills head lice and their eggs.
Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments. This will help get rid of head lice for the most part.
- Imidacloprid and pyrethrin. Your doctor or pharmacist might recommend this combination of treatments. It’s toxic to head lice, and it’s the strongest treatment available.
- Imidacloprid and Permethrin shampoo. Your doctor or pharmacist might recommend this treatment instead of either Imidacloprid or Pyrethrin shampoo.
How to prevent head lice?
There’s no sure way to prevent head lice.
Head lice are contagious, and you can spread them to others. You can’t get head lice from someone who doesn’t have it.
You can’t get head lice from:
- Washing your hair.
- Sleeping with someone else
- Dressing in the same clothes on multiple days in a row.
How do you get rid of head lice?
If you have head lice, you can get rid of them by:
- Washing your hair and scalp with a strong soap or shampoo.
- Washing your hair daily for at least two weeks.
- Using a prescription treatment every day.
Washing your hair with a shampoo that contains permethrin kills most head lice. But it doesn’t kill all the eggs.
Can head lice live in your hair?
Head lice can live on your hair. They’re not spread through your head. They’re spread through head-to-head contact.
How do you treat head lice on your head?
If you have head lice, you can treat them with a prescription treatment.
To treat head lice:
- Wash your hair with a shampoo that contains permethrin.
- Wash it every other day for at least two weeks.
- Rinse your hair with lukewarm water every day or every other day.
- Shampoo your hair with a shampoo that contains permethrin every day.
- Avoid using hair dye or hair-straightening products that have alcohol.
- Avoid using hair-straightening products or hair-dye products that have alcohol.
- Apply a thin layer of Nix™ lotion to your scalp every day.
- Avoid using hair relaxers or other products that can dry out your hair.
- Avoid using shampoos or conditioners that have a strong smell.
When should I see a doctor for head lice?
See your doctor if you think you have head lice. Head lice can be a medical emergency. It can spread to others and cause serious health problems.
Head lice are often found in schools. They can spread quickly in schools.
Your doctor can help you treat head lice. If left untreated, head lice can cause serious, even life-threatening, problems.
Head lice are common. They can spread by direct head-to-head contact. You can’t get head lice from someone without it. They’re contagious.
You can treat head lice by washing your hair with a shampoo that contains permethrin. This is the strongest treatment available. It can kill most head lice and their eggs.
Head lice can be a serious problem. You can spread them to others. They can cause serious health problems if you don’t treat them.
Images by Freepik
Generated by AI