A head lice infestation can lead to serious itching, infection and hair loss. Treating head lice is fairly simple, it involves using an antiparasitic shampoo. But reinfestation can occur if the home and car is not treated properly. Lice and their eggs--called nits--can survive on bedding, clothing, helmets, stuffed animals, carpeting, and furniture, so these items must be treated on the same day that the patient is treated to prevent reinfestation. Itching can persist for several days after the head lice and nits have been eradicated, leading some to wonder if they're reinfested.
Things You'll Need
- Lice comb
- Bright lighting
- Hair brush or comb
Brush or comb your hair to remove tangles and smooth the hair.
Part your hair and, in a brightly lit location, examine the length of the hair for little white "bubbles." These "bubbles" are nits (louse eggs); they will be affixed to the individual hairs. Repeat this process for different areas of the head. This process will be easier if another person assists.
Wet your hair in the shower and apply hair conditioner (do not rinse until the louse-searching process is complete). Lice can move very quickly through dry hair; wetting hair and applying conditioner will allow for an easier louse search.
Comb your hair and after each stroke, search the base of the comb teeth for lice (little black specks.) If no lice are observed, proceed to step 5.
Part your hair at various locations on your head and search for lice (small black specks) as they move across your scalp.
Notice any "crawling" sensations on your scalp. You can often feel the lice traveling through your hair. If this occurs, it's a sign of an infestation.
Look for an increase in the amount of itching. Itching occurs when a louse bites the skin; the itching is an allergic reaction to the louse saliva. Like a mosquito bite, itching will persist for several days after the bite occurs. Over time, itching should subside. If itching worsens, it's the result of new louse bites.
Visit a physician for an examination if you suspect that lice are still present but were unable to detect any lice or nits in the preceding steps.
Tips & Warnings
- Use a magnifying glass to allow for an easier search for lice and nits.
- Skin infections can result from the actual louse bite. Scratching can also cause small abrasions that lead to infection. Symptoms of a skin infection include redness, pain, swelling and discharge.
- Skin infections can result in damage to the hair follicles. This can result in hair loss and even permanent bald spots. For this reason, prompt treatment of a lice infestation is essential. And if an infection is suspected, it's important to visit a physician to obtain a prescription for antibiotic medication.