Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Care and Head Lice

Head lice. Even the mention of the words and mere thought of those pesky varmints makes anyone shake with disgust. Formerly in days of old it was common for most people to have them. The earliest records of head lice treatment in the United States is from the early 1800’s. However, in our modern times the majority of cases in America are caused by very close contact with someone infested with lice or using items like combs or brushes that another person has used who has head lice. Children are often the victims, especially when school is in session.

According to, historically, lice were common and extended all orders of society, surfs to royals. The presence of bugs and parasites was inevitable. Lice are responsible for the transmission of the epidemic typhus. The first recorded typhus epidemic caused by lice infestations was located in Europe and Asia. Head lice became less prevalent during the period of World War II (mid 1900’s). This was due to the use of a chemical agent. This chemical agent was a powerful pesticide that was utilized to destroy mosquitoes that spread malaria. It also had effects on decreasing the populations of lice that spread typhoid. This chemical agent is still carefully utilized today as a pesticide agent, but it remains to have many harmful side effects including toxicity.

The first treatments were not medicinal, but home made, according to These include the use of such substances as Vaseline, mayonnaise, and olive oil. By completely covering the scalp and hair with one of these substances, it is possible to suffocate the lice and nits. These treatment methods are not commonly utilized today. Another household treatment involved the use of gasoline. Gasoline would be put on the hair and scalp of the individual, with the thought that gasoline would be toxic to the lice and nits. This has been repeatedly disproved. Do not try this at home. Gasoline is dangerous!

Current treatment methods are typically prescribed by a medical provider or over the counter methods. Most involve the use of a comb for the removal of nits, and a shampoo or topical additive. This process must be repeated and the home must be properly cleaned to prevent re-infestation. Most over the counter or prescription treatments can be dangerous and more so if the treatment must be repeated a number of times. There exist all natural methods for the treatment of lice infestations that are much safer and less dangerous.

According to Google Health, Head lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp. They can be spread by close contact with other people. These lice only live in hair and occasionally eyebrows and eyelashes. Lice on scalp and clothing may be difficult to see, unless the infestation is heavy. If you see something moving, it's called a louse. Head lice infect hair on the head. They are easiest to see on the neck and over the ears. Tiny eggs on the hair look like flakes of dandruff. However, instead of flaking off the scalp, they stay put.

Head lice can survive up to 30 days on a human. Their eggs can live for more than 2 weeks. Head lice spread easily. You can get head lice when you come in close contact with a person who has lice, or by touching their clothing or bedding. Head lice are more common in close, overcrowded living conditions. Lice spread easily among school children. Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status. Having head lice causes intense itching, but does not lead to serious medical problems. Unlike body lice, head lice never carry or spread diseases.

According to, Head lice and body lice, which are different forms (subspecies) of Pediculus humanus, are very similar in appearance. Lice are wingless insects whose legs have claws that grip and hold onto hair shafts. Their abdomens are distinctly longer than they are wide. Their are 6 pairs of breathing spiracles. Their color, which varies from dirty-white to rust to grayish-black, usually approaches the hair color of the host. Head lice almost always occur on the head where they attach their eggs (nits) to the hair; body lice prefer to live in the seams and linings of unwashed clothing, blankets and sheets from which they periodically crawl onto the skin to feed. Although body lice usually deposit their nits on unwashed clothing fibers, the nits are sometimes found on body hair as well.

Head lice can change to become the color of the host's hair. Female head lice produce from 50 to 150 eggs (6 to 10 nits per day) which they usually attach to hair behind the ears, on the nape of the neck and occasionally to other body hairs. Nits may also be found in sports headgear, hats, combs, barrettes, scarves, brushes, etc. and other common means of infecting a host. The incidence of infestation is greater among persons with long or dense hair, particularly when regular and thorough grooming and washing is neglected.

The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days, and the young, which resemble the adults except for size, mature in 8 to 22 days during which time they undergo three skin molts to allow for their ever increasing body growth. Adults normally live only about 3 weeks or more, depending upon conditions. They do not resist starvation well - at 75 degrees F. all head lice die after 55 hours without a blood meal.

Lice are usually killed with proper treatment, according to Google Health. However, lice may come back, especially if the source is not corrected. For example, a classroom with many infected children can cause kids to repeatedly get lice. When one case is detected in a family or a school or child-care center, every child at that location should be examined for head lice. This can help prevent further spreading. Never share hair brushes, combs, hair pieces, hats, bedding, towels, or clothing with someone who has head lice. If your child has lice, be sure to check policies at schools, day-care centers, preschools, and nurseries. Many do not allow infected children to be at school until the lice have been completely treated. Some schools may have policies to make sure the environment is clear of lice. Sometimes, the insects or their eggs get into areas such as carpets. Frequent cleaning of carpets and all other surfaces in child-care centers prevents spread of all types of infections, including head lice.

According to, head lice is an increasing problem because lice-killing medicines are becoming less effective. Head lice is a very common condition, especially among children ages 3-10. As many as 6 million to 12 million people worldwide get head lice each year. Scratching can lead to skin sores and skin infections. Anyone can get head lice. Getting rid of head lice requires treating the individual, the family, and the household. Treat the individual and the family. This requires using an over-the-counter or prescription lice-killing medicine. Treat only persons who are infested. Remember that all lice-killing products are pesticides. Follow these treatment steps:

--Remove all clothing.
--Apply lice-killing medicine, also called pediculicide, according to label instructions. If the affected person has extra-long hair, you may need to use a second bottle.
--WARNING: Do not use a creme rinse or combination shampoo/conditioner before using lice-killing medicine. Do not re-wash hair for 1-2 days after treatment.
--Have the affected person put on clean clothing after treatment.
--If some live lice are still found but are moving more slowly than before treatment, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair. The medicine sometimes takes longer than the time recommended on the package to kill the lice.
--After treatment, if no dead lice are found and lice seem as active as before, the medicine may not be working. See your health-care provider for a different medicine. Follow treatment instructions.
--Remove nits and lice from the hair shaft using a nit comb, often found in lice-killing medicine packages. Flea combs used for cats and dogs can also be used.
--After treatment, check, comb, and remove nits and lice from the hair every 2-3 days.
--Re-treat in 7-10 days.
--Check all treated persons for 2-3 weeks until you are sure all lice and nits are gone.

Treat the household:
--To kill lice and nits, machine wash all washable clothing and bed linens that the infested person touched during the 2 days before they were diagnosed. Wash clothes and linens in the HOT water cycle (130 F). Dry items on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes.
--Dry clean clothing that is not washable (coats, hats, scarves, etc.). OR
--Seal all non-washable items (clothing, stuffed animals, comforters, etc.) in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
--Soak combs and brushes for 1 hour in rubbing alcohol or Lysol, or wash with soap and hot water.
--Vacuum the floor and furniture. Do not use lice sprays; they can be toxic if inhaled.

--Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use head-lice medications.
--Consult a health-care provider before using lice-killing products on a person who has allergies, asthma, or other medical conditions.
--Do not use extra amounts of lice-killing medicines.
--Do not use lice-killing medicines on the eyebrows or eyelashes.

Here is a resource for lice that is a great resource for this healthcare issue.  Healthline has a lice buyer’s guide that allows you to find the best lice treatment for your family. You can see the guide here:
According to Google Health, call your health care provider if symptoms continue after home treatment, or if you develop areas of red, tender skin, which could mean a possible infection. And remember to always check with your child's school about their procedures if a head lice outbreak should occur. They are common enough to cause concern to parents and educators. Although families are usually not infested, head lice can be a major source of health care inconvenience when they show up. Keep your kids and your house clean to help prevent issues with head lice.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.


Joeffrey said...

from now on i will check and keep my comb so that no one will use it except me!!to avoid those little vampire head lice

Bradley said...

My son came home with head lice the other day and after looking online for the best treatment, I was surprised to see that there were so many differing opinions on what was best. In the end we went for some head lice shampoo and it did the trick.

Jillian Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jillian Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing this post. The nurse at my daughter's school found out she had head lice. While I was scared at first, I realized how easy it is to get rid of lice by using a lice removal service

Helen Evans said...

A better head lice service like Tiny Locks helps to deal with your lice infestation and prevent from upcoming infestation in most secure process.
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