Lice are wingless insects that have plagued humans since before recorded history. Head lice were common in human society up until the middle-ages. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase, “Help! My kid has lice!” you’ve joined the ranks of millions of parents throughout time.
As long as there have been people, there have been lice, so it’s little wonder the numerous lice treatments available. What is the best lice treatment? What is the best natural lice treatment?
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Types of Lice
According to Healthline, humans can be the host to three different kinds of lice:
- Live their entire lives on the human scalp
- Humans are the head louse only host
- Feed exclusively on human blood
- Humans are the body louse only host
- Feed solely on human blood
- Vectors for transmission of various human diseases
- Humans are the pubic louse only host
- Feed exclusively on human blood
- Can live on any part of the human body covered in hair such as the eyelashes
Life Cycle of Lice
To properly treat head lice and determine the best lice treatment, we must first understand their life cycle:
Eggs or Nits
- Eggs are attached to the host hair close to the scalp
- The adult female louse secretes a protective glue that hardens around the hair sheath and part of the egg
- Eggs are tan to coffee-colored but appear white right after hatching
- Head lice eggs hatch six to nine days after being lain
- After hatching, a head lice nymph leaves its eggshell still attached to the host’ hair until it is removed or disintegrates
- Nymphs molt three times before reaching sexual maturity
- The only difference between nymphs and adult louse is the size
- The age at which a louse reaches adulthood depends on feeding conditions. The earliest maturation is at eight to nine days from hatching.
- Copulation is required for adult lice to reproduce.
- Pairing can begin within ten hours of adulthood and mating frequently occurs after twenty-four hours
- Adult female lice lay three to four eggs per day
When we look at the life cycle and reproduction rate of the head lice, we can see it is imperative to find the right lice treatment for our kids and fast!
Symptoms of Lice Infestation
A head lice infestation typically affects children. It is due to the transfer of lice from the hair of one child to another. Watch for these symptoms:
- Itching. Humans have an allergic reaction to lice saliva. It may take up to six weeks from the time a person is infected with lice until they begin itching.
- Visible lice on the scalp. Head lice are small and can be challenging to see. If you suspect a lice infestation, you may have to use a magnifying glass to spot them.
- Nits on hair shafts. Look in the hair around your child’s ears and neck. Empty lice egg shells are white or light-colored and may be easier to spot.
If you suspect your child has a head lice infestation see your doctor for confirmation before you begin treatment.
Traditional Lice Treatments
If your kids have head lice, you want the best lice treatment that works fast because head lice spread quickly:
- Medicated shampoo
- Medicated lotion
All medicated treatments include an insecticide that kills the head lice. After the head lice have died, you have to use a fine-tooth comb to remove the dead head lice and shell debris from your child’s hair.
Common side effects of medicated treatments include burning and stinging skin and irritation
Natural Lice Treatments
Sometimes when a child gets lice, all that may be required is a proper brushing with a lice comb. Sometimes it requires a little more:
- Wet Combing. Wet combing is where we spray a conditioner on the hair and, using a magnifying glass, comb all the lice and eggs from the damp hair. Wet combing is very time consuming but can be extremely useful.
- Smothering. Coat the hair or comb in oil, and it slows the lice down by subduing them in oil. Then, using a hair clip, meticulously comb through each section of hair removing lice and eggs
- Essential oils. Diluted essential oils along with combing can be very useful in lice treatment but always consult with a physician because there has not been extensive research in this area.
- Cleaning. Cleaning your home, washing contaminated bedding and clothing, and drying at high temperatures, above 128.3 degrees, will prevent recurrence of infestation.
Natural lice treatments do not involve the use of insecticides, which is a concern for many parents when treating a lice infestation. Thoroughly research and check with your physician before determining the best natural lice treatment for your child.
Delouse Your House
Lice crawl off the body onto nearby clothing, fabric, bedding, and furniture. Head lice don’t survive long without a human host. It is imperative to delouse your home to prevent a recurring infestation:
- Wash any items that may have been in contact with the infected person
- Dry the items on high heat for at least five minutes. Lice and eggs die when exposed to temperatures of more than 128.3 degrees for longer than five minutes
- Things that can’t be washed and dried can be placed in an air-tight plastic bag for at least two weeks to kill remaining lice and eggs
- Above all, don’t be embarrassed if you or your child gets lice. It is not a sign of disease or uncleanliness; anyone can catch head lice.
Lice have always co-existed with humans, they are a species-specific parasite, and we are their only host. If you or your children catch head lice, you aren’t dirty or disease-ridden. Contracting lice is not a reason to be embarrassed.
If you find that your child has lice, decide which is the best lice treatment for them, take action fast, and work meticulously, because head lice spread quickly.
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