Caring for children requires knowledge of a variety of things, including, unfortunately, how to remove head lice eggs. Head lice is not a sign of poor parenting. Some mothers may find it embarrassing, but head lice are a common childhood experience, just like colds or scraped knees. And once a child in a household gets lice, it is likely that the rest of the family will catch them too, unless addressed immediately. The important thing is to know what to do when your child gets head lice, and try to avoid future infestations.
Head lice are tiny grey, brown or black insects that can grow to the size of sesame seeds. They live in human heads, cling to hairs close to the scalp and feed on human blood. Their bites are very itchy and can cause wounds or infection if scratched hard enough. Head lice lay eggs (called nits) that they glue to individual hair strands. These are very difficult to remove even after they have hatched. The eggs are hatched seven to 10 days after they are laid, and it takes another 10 days or thereabouts for the newly hatched insects to become adults. Lice can’t hop or fly, but can move very quickly, and since they are lightweight, can be easily transferred from one head to another through shared combs, towels or hair accessories. They can also transfer through direct contact. This is why lice can multiply very easily and are difficult to remove.
Following are steps you can take to remove head lice eggs.
Closely and thoroughly examine the hair of everyone in your family. Nits are glued close to the scalp and are hard to detect. A magnifying glass may help if your eyesight is not very sharp, especially because some hair colors make it easy for nits to blend in. If possible, cut hair short. Although hair length does not affect lice, short hair will make it easier for you to treat the condition especially in young children.
Use a product specifically intended to treat head lice. You need to get rid of the lice so that they will stop breeding and laying eggs. Read and follow the instructions very carefully to make sure you maximize the effectiveness of the product. However, no product is 100 percent guaranteed to get rid of all the lice at once, and some may become resistant. You will need to do follow-up steps. You will need to do this for everyone who is infected, and if you really want to be safe, also include the others who do not have nits for good measure. Even a single louse on a person’s head could multiply in little over a week.
As much as possible, get the nits out by hand. Hold the root of the hair close to the scalp (this will prevent the removal from hurting too much). With the other hand, grasp the hair tightly just below the nit between your thumb and index finger, and pull up to the end. The nit should leave the hair shaft as you pull it up. The pulling action will be painful, that’s why you need to hold the hair close the scalp with your other hand and prevent the hair from getting pulled out by the root. This can be very uncomfortable and some children will refuse to sit through such a treatment. If this is the case, and the nits cannot be removed by a fine-tooth comb, then you will have to wait for the nit to fall off by itself (which takes a long time) or be cut off along with the hair.
Every day, go over the hair with a fine-tooth comb. This is different from an ordinary comb, which will have wide-set teeth that are ineffective in removing lice. A fine-tooth comb has teeth that are set very close together to remove lice and other debris. Sometimes it will also remove nits. If you see lice, wipe them off with a tissue and continue combing through the hair. It is best to do this in the bathroom so you can immediately drop the used tissue into the toilet and flush it all down after you’re done. Otherwise, if you leave it out in the open, the living lice could still make their way to clothing or the hair. Continue this daily for a month, at least, and then once a week for prevention.
Some children may be averse to the fine-tooth comb ritual. An alternative you could try involves a daily shampoo and many clean white cotton shirts or towels. Every day, wash the child’s hair with mild shampoo and, while the hair is bubbly, towel briskly. Hopefully, the lice will stick to the towel. Replace the towel and repeat the steps. Afterwards, wash the shirts or towels on high heat in preparation for the next day’s session. Again, do this every day. Since you are not removing nits this way, the process will take longer. In addition, even if you haven’t seen lice over several days, you still need to do it to ensure the lice is really gone.
Contrary to common belief, lice do not indicate poor hygiene habits. Lice can live in clean or dirty hair. All they want is human blood to feed on. When you know how to remove head lice eggs, you have a better chance of stopping an infestation almost as soon as it occurs.