Everybody hates head lice. If you suspect that you have lice, you better be sure about it by learning how to tell if you have lice so that you can take the appropriate measures immediately. There are a few different kinds of lice that can infest humans, mostly children, such as head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. The most common symptom of head lice infestation is a very itchy scalp.
Lice are tiny, wingless insects that can plague not only humans but also other mammals. They are most often found deep down in hair follicles, feathers, and fur, where they usually lay their eggs. Eventually, adult lice will produce offspring, called nits. Whenever lice inject their saliva into the head, what comes next is a very itchy form of allergic reaction on the skin.
To help you determine if you have head lice, here are a few tips that you can check on.
First learn the cause of scalp itchiness. There are two possible reasons why your scalp is so itchy – it could be due to lice or it could be dandruff, or flakes. If you have lice on your scalp, then you can expect minor itching at first, eventually becoming more intense once the lice infestation is more severe.
To be sure of what’s causing the itchiness, sit down in a well-lit area with a mirror. Position your mirror in front of you. Bend your head down a little and then divide your hair into two. Look closely in the mirror and examine your scalp for lice. The lice are very small, so may not be easily visible at once unless they have increased in number.
Examine individual hair strands. If you cannot see any lice in your scalp area, check your hair strands for nits. They look like egg sacs, somewhat like very tiny white or brownish bubbles that are tightly affixed into your hair strands. Also take note if there are sections of your scalp that look irritated. Scalp redness is an indication that you have lice living in your head.
Use a nit comb. This is the primary tool that you will need to detect a lice infestation in your head. Buy a nit comb that is specially designed for removing head lice from every hair strand. As you comb your hair, check to see if there are nits and other live bugs taken out. Before attempting to use any brand of anti-lice hair shampoo, first make sure of the degree of lice infestation you have.
Bend your head again and comb from your nape toward your forehead. Before you start, so as not to damage your hair, massage your hair first with baby oil. This will soften your hair, which can greatly help the nit comb in moving more smoothly from the bottom towards the forehead.
Smell your nit comb to see if it has a foul odor. Once there are lice, nits, and bugs living in your head, you will notice that your comb has a foul odor due to the smell of your scalp. The smell is similar to that of rotting old leaves. The dirt accumulated in your scalp can be attributed into the waste of the nits and lice.
Treat your scalp and hair. The immediate remedy you can try to fight the itchiness in your head is to take a bath and apply a sufficient amount of shampoo that has a 1% permethrin content. You can buy this kind of shampoo over the counter without prescription. After application, let it remain in your head for 15 minutes and then rinse well. Regular application of such shampoo should give you good results.
Malathion, which has 0.5% isopropanol content, is another FDA approved treatment widely used against head lice.
As for young children, head lice infestation can greatly increase whenever they are exposed to pets and direct sunlight. The above-mentioned tips can surely help you on the question of how to tell if you have lice, and to also determine if your children at home are infested with lice. If you suspect that the other members of the family have lice, it is advisable that you start treating the entire family so all of you can be free from these parasites.