Home Pest Control: Stopping A Lice Infestation

How to tell if you or your family has head lice and what you can do about it. Prevention and debugging tips.

Do you or one of your family members have head lice?

If you think that you cannot get head lice""think again! You may think that just because you keep your entire household's hair spic and span, lice will never take up in your household. Guess what?!? Lice or Pediculus humanus capitis love clean hair. They can move easier on a clean hair shaft.

Though it may be quite difficult to trace the source of your infestation, you know somewhere you came into close contact with an infected person or their clothing or any other personal items. Children are most likely the ones who get infested and then it becomes a household problem. Children are most vulnerable because they play closely in school and daycare and will either share or fight over personal items. Of course parent can get the head lice from their children by hugging them or using the same brush. It is quite difficult to live with a child with head lice and not get them yourself.

So what does a louse look like? If you have fair hair the adult louse is usually grayish-white. People with darker hair will have darker colored bugs. They are around the size of a sesame seed. They also have six legs. As nit or egg layers, the females is usually bigger than the male louse. Adults have a life span of around thirty days. Nymphs are baby lice. They are a smaller version of the adult louse. Nymphs mature at around seven days. For survival both nymphs and adults must feed on human blood. The nits or lice eggs are yellow or white oval shapes that are often confused with dandruff. They are attached near the scalp with a cement-like bond.

Symptoms of a lice infestation are itching from the bites or sores on the head. Constantly itchy head or the sensation something is moving on your head or hair. The sight of a louse in the hair or nits on the hair shaft is a definite clue.

Though they are quick movers, you can find lice at the nape of the neck and around the ears. It is extremely rare to find them anywhere else but on the scalp.

A little known fact is that your pets cannot get head lice. Lice must have a source of human blood. They cannot feed off of an animal. So there is no need to check your pet.

How can you stop and prevent infestation?

Once lice is suspected or diagnosed, everyone in the household needs to have their head inspected. Check the entire head of each person. Comb through the hair with a fine tooth comb. Check the hot spots very carefully""around the neck and behind the ears. If you have a school age child or one in daycare, you should probably do routine weekly checks""just to be sure.

A flea comb is excellent to comb through the hair to remove bugs and nits. You can choose an over the counter shampoo to kill the lice, but most times the nits are unaffected, so you will have to manually remove each one. You can also have your doctor prescribe a prescription pesticide. The pesticide should be a last resort for use on a child. If you have a boy, you can shave his head""if you have no hair you have no lice. Lice must have hair to live in. It is how they hide.

As a preventative measure all bedding should be washed in hot water and dried in the dryer. If your child has a stuffed toy or something that isn't machine washable""forty-five minutes in the dryer is long enough to kill lice and their nits. All furniture can be sprayed with a lice spray or vacuuming all furniture and carpets will pick up any shed lice or nits. Lice cannot live off the human head for any more than twenty four hours. Nits take around three days to hatch, but a very thorough vacuum will pick any nits up. It is slim to none that a nit would ever come off the shaft alone. After treatment was all of the clothing and remember to change clothes after you get rid of the lice.

Remember to do weekly or at least head checks every two weeks or so. If you can catch lice early, they aren't nearly as difficult to cure. Also keep in mind that it is no one's fault for the infestation. Lice happen""even to the cleanest families. They are bothersome, but at least they are not disease carriers nor do they harm you personally""other than being an annoyance!

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