Although not dangerous, head lice are a nasty inconvenience that families will do anything to avoid. Unfortunately, you never know who has it and you may not realize that you have the bugs until they have spread. Read on to discover some head lice home treatments and tips on preventing a further infestation.
For headlice to spread, a person must have direct personal contact with someone who is infested, or by contact with infested clothing and items. Head lice is extremely contagious, so if you suspect an infestation, use a nit-removal lice comb to check everyone in your household.
Symptoms include itching, swollen glands in the back of the neck, foul-smelling hair and small, oval white or gray-white spots stuck to the hair shaft. If you do find lice or nits, remove them using tweezers, your finger-nails, or a piece of tape wrapped around your finger, sticky side up. Adult lice are reddish-brown and do not jump or fly.
Treating head lice is as easy as consulting a pharmacist for shampoos that kill head lice and nits. The National Pediculosis Association strongly advises against using lice products containing lindane, because it has been associated with a number of serious medical conditions, including seizures and possibly cancer.
You can treat eyelashes and eyebrows with a thick layer of petroleum jelly applied twice daily for eight days. Other head lice home treatments involve the application of olive oil or mayonnaise onto the head. There is some evidence that it works by smothering the nits. Massage it into the hair, leave it in as long as possible and then manually comb out the nits. Heat can kill lice and nits, so use a hair dryer after treatments.
Head lice require human blood to survive, so they can't live long in clothing, linens and furniture. To prevent a reinfestation, wash all bedding, recently used towels and recently worn clothing in hot water, and dry them in a hot dryer. Soak all combs and brushes in hot water for at least 10 minutes. If you do not have access to a washer and dryer, isolate the infected clothes and bedding in a garbage bag for two weeks, which is plenty of time for head lice to die. Vacuuming is the safest and best way to remove lice or fallen hairs, with attached nits, from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals and cars.
To keep the infestation from spreading, it is a good idea to stay home and keep your kids home from school for a few days. To protect yourself, avoid sharing hats, bicycle helmets, combs, brushes and clothing with anyone who may have lice. Remember that even if a person is clean, they may still have lice. If you do end up with lice, approach your treatment with care. Pregnant or nursing women should not use treatments for head lice and babies should NEVER be exposed to the chemicals. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist who will give you good advice on treating this nasty problem.