Treating yourself to lice can be a scary experience. Should you go to urgent care for lice or try to treat the infestation at home?
So you came here with your child, and they found lice. Don’t worry, and it happens to the best of us! Many people think that only poor people with lousy hygiene have lice, and they’re embarrassed.
But the truth is anyone can get lice if they don’t practice impeccable hygiene. That’s right! We said anyone. It could be your cousin, doctor, lawyer, dentist, or accountant.
This article provides an overview of what to expect when you go to your local urgent care center to get rid of these nasty bugs.
What Are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny insects that live on the hair shafts of their hosts. They feed on blood from the scalp but do not cause disease in humans.
Head lice can be found on any part of the body with hair. The scalp’s most common site may also be found behind the ears, in eyebrows and eyelashes, on pubic hair, under armpits, and around the navel.
Head lice have six legs and no wings; they are approximately 1/16 inch long (1 mm) when mature. Nymphs (immature lice) resemble adults but are smaller and do not have fully developed eyes or wing pads until after molting into an adult form.
Head lice are spread through direct contact with another person’s hair or belongings that an infected person has used. They cannot hop or fly as fleas do; instead, they crawl from one head to another by grasping onto hair strands with their claws and walking along with them until they find a suitable place to feed and lay eggs.
If your child has head lice, you should:
- Throw away any toys that cannot be washed.
- Treat other members of your household who have had close contact with the affected person.
Where Do Head Lice Come From?
Head lice live in human blood. They lay their eggs (nits) on hair shafts close to the scalp. The nits hatch into nymphs a week later. Larvae mature into adults in about ten days and begin to lay eggs after mating. A female may lay up to 50 eggs during her life span.
Head lice spread when children play together and share combs, brushes, or hats. Adults can get head lice, too, if they spend time with children who have them wearing hats or combs with an infected person.
What Causes Head Lice?
It’s not because they’re particularly “dirty.” Lice feed off human blood, and they are most often transmitted through contact with the hair of an infected person.
If you think back to elementary school when you had your first (or last) lice outbreak, the chances are that one kid on the playground had them first.
Unless that kid was filthy (which, as mentioned above, has nothing to do with getting lice), there’s a good chance that the transmission source was physical contact between heads.
Most people catch lice by sharing combs or brushes with an infected person. So watch out! That kid might be secretly harboring live bugs on their head.
What Does Head Lice Look Like?
Nits are tiny, white eggs firmly attached to the hair shaft near the scalp. Nits are often hard to see because they are so small, but they can be seen with a magnifying glass or a microscope.
The nits look like tiny seeds or dandruff and may be difficult to see without magnification. They will stick to the hair shafts and move when you touch them or run your finger through your hair.
The nits will not fall out easily when you comb them out because their outer shell is made of a material that protects them from being broken down by water and shampoo.
The Symptoms of Lice
The symptoms of lice are elementary to recognize:
- Infestation of nits (eggs) or live lice can be seen easily with the naked eye.
- Itchy scalp.
- Redness around the base of each hair shaft (called follicular inflammation).
- Fluctuating levels of itching range from mild to severe.
- Sores on the head are caused by scratching (called excoriations).
- Lice eggs (nits) on your hair.
- Scratching on the head and neck
- Rashes or red spots on the head, neck, ears, or shoulders
- Unusual hair loss or patchiness
- Itching in the eyebrows or eyelashes
- Limp or sparse hair
- Foul odor coming from the hair
- Dry, flaky scalp
- Lice crawling on your scalp or in your hair.
You may have contracted lice if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your child/grandchild. If so, don’t panic! Prevention is critical; it’s possible to prevent an infestation by keeping your living space clean and free of clutter in most cases.
Lice infestations are embarrassing and uncomfortable and can also be dangerous if they’re left untreated.
How to Get Rid of Head Lice?
1. Wash Everything
Wash your hair and all clothing, sheets, towels, and linens in hot water, and plenty of soap. Use it in the most desirable setting for at least 20 minutes if you have a dryer. The heat will help kill any living lice or eggs (nits) on the materials.
2. Dry Everything
After washing, dry all items in a hot dryer or outside in the sun—lice need moisture to survive, and drying helps kill them. Letting items air-dry is not good enough because some nits can survive for several days without water.
3. Check Everyone’s Head Daily
If you find one person with head lice, there’s a good chance everyone else has them too if they didn’t get treated at the same time as the infected person did; yet another reason why it’s so important to treat everyone at once!
4. Use a Lice Comb
These are sold at most drugstores and are cheap, so grab one. Lice combs have excellent teeth that comb out the lice from your hair.
5. Consider Petroleum Jelly
Apply a thick layer of jelly to your hair, wait for an hour, then rinse it off in the shower. The idea behind this is that after being coated with jelly, the lice will no longer be able to grip your hair and will fall out quickly in the shower.
Home Remedies to Treat Lice
Lice can be easily treated with over-the-counter treatment products available at drugstores. However, if you have tried these products and they don’t work, you may want to try using home remedies to treat lice instead.
1. Lemon and Olive Oil
Lemons are a natural cleaning agent that can kill lice, so it is a great way to get rid of them. The lemon juice helps to dry out the lice and kill them, while the olive oil coats their bodies so they cannot escape.
You will need to apply this mixture to wet hair and leave it on for about 30 minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly with water afterward, and then comb through with a nit comb to remove any remaining dead lice.
2. Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda is also a good option for getting rid of lice. Mix equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar to make a paste. Add water as needed to make a consistency that will be easy to apply to your scalp. Apply this to your scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing out with water.
3. Garlic and Coconut Oil
If you have a lice infestation, garlic can help you eliminate these pesky insects. Just make some garlic paste by adding enough coconut oil to thick and then rub it all over your scalp. Leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning with shampoo. Repeat this process every few days until all the lice are gone.
4. Tabasco Sauce
Another effective home remedy for lice is Tabasco sauce. Mothers have used this spicy condiment has been used for decades by mothers to get rid of head lice in their children’s hair.
To use this remedy, apply enough Tabasco sauce on your child’s scalp and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it off with shampoo and warm water. You can also use a fine-toothed comb to remove any remaining nits or lice eggs after letting the Tabasco sauce sit on your child’s head for some time.
Why go to University Urgent Care for Head Lice?
Whether or not it is appropriate to use a prescription medication, over-the-counter product, or natural home treatment is determined by the extent of your lice infestation and the severity of symptoms. This is why diagnosing and treating head lice is important at University Urgent Care even when often home remedies and over the counter medications may be used. If the lice seem to resist other treatments, there is no harm in trying a prescription one.
At UUC we provide quick and convenient appointment scheduling in addition to walk in’s. Get seen quicker than your doctors office same day for relief from head lice.