Check for Lice Nits

Edited by Mian Sheilette Ong, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn

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Personal hygiene is a priority for everyone. With excellent personal hygiene, you will be able to carry yourself well anywhere at any given time. It will also show that you take good care of yourself. Even if you have excellent hygiene, ectoparasites such as lice can strike, and if you become afflicted with such parasites, you must act quickly and make sure you are thorough in your efforts to get rid of them. Lice are wingless and very tiny. They infest your scalp and other body areas such as the pubic and armpit regions. Adult lice lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, they leave shells behind. These shells are called nits. When you see these nits in your scalp or in any area of the body, it is a neon sign of a lice infestation. You should know how to check for lice nits if you want to have a parasite-free body and scalp. It will definitely make you more confident in mingling with other people. Yes, it may be tedious and laborious, but this will help you ensure a healthier lifestyle.

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Everything About Head Lice, Eggs, and Nits

You should definitely understand how to recognize lice. These are wingless, tiny arthropods (six-legged invertebrates) that reside on your scalp. Lice are ectoparasites that rely on blood to survive. They are about the size of sesame seeds if you look closely. Lice are like mosquitoes, but instead of flying, they do best with crawling. You can get lice by being in direct contact with someone infested with head lice. Another way would be to share items such as headbands, clips, combs, or hats.

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The female head lice lay lice eggs. These eggs are almost invisible to the naked eye because they're tiny and they blend into the color of your hair. Female head lice usually lay their eggs on the hair shafts near the hair roots. They attach with an adhesive that's naturally waterproof. That is why they cannot be blown or washed away.

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By the time the head lice eggs hatch, they leave empty eggshells behind. These are called nits. You could confuse nits with hairspray flakes, sand, or dandruff. Like the lice eggs, nits still have their adhesives so they cannot be removed that easily. Nits differ in coloration (brownish yellow, white). As the hair grows, the attached nits are found away from the roots. Since nits are indications of lice infestation, many schools do not admit children who have them. It is important for parents to check their children's heads for nits and eggs on a regular basis so that lice treatment could be performed immediately. Removing nits and lice eggs takes patience and a fine-toothed comb.

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Head lice have three phases in their life cycle (40-50 days):

  1. 1
    Egg phase.
    The mature female lays eggs that are coated with an adhesive. They are stuck on the hair shafts near the hair roots. The newly hatched head lice will hatch after 10 days.
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  2. 2
    Nymph phase.
    A nymph comes out of the head lice egg. They are not that easy to see. Nymphs cannot reproduce yet because they don't have fully developed reproductive system yet. It takes 12 days for lice nymphs to mature.
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  3. 3
    Adult phase.
    This is the phase where the nymphs are finally mature enough to produce and lay eggs. Once they are sexually mature, they could lay four to 10 eggs every day. The life of adult head lice lasts for about 28 days. About 280 lice eggs could be laid by mature females before they die off.
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How to Check for Head Lice, Nits, and Eggs

You can tell if there is a head lice infestation when the suspected host itches all the time. Oftentimes, children scratch their heads, nape, or behind the ears. Red bumps or small wounds could also be present in these areas. Once you notice itching or bumps, immediately check your child's head. There could already be a head lice outbreak in their school. You can check for head lice, nits, and eggs through the following steps:

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  1. 1
    Choose a relaxing place.
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    Select a comfortable area for head lice checking. You should position your child seated in front of you. This will allow you to check all over your child's head conveniently.
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  2. 2
    Make sure there is natural light.
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    It should be bright enough so that you could detect the nits. The tiny adult lice do move quickly so you have to have appropriate lighting to see them. Head lice eggs are translucent. Moving the light around or moving under the light helps pinpoint them.
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  3. 3
    Fully examine the scalp.
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    Part areas of hair and look closely at the scalp, the area behind the ears, and the nape.
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The Wet and Dry Hair Techniques

Detecting head lice, eggs, and nits can be done by combing the hair with a fine-toothed comb. Here are the basic methods you can use:

  1. 1
    Wet Hair Technique.
    This lasts for 5-15 minutes, depending on the thickness and the length of your hair. This could also be used as part of the treatment.
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    1. Wash the hair with regular shampoo.
    2. Rinse the hair thoroughly and apply regular conditioner. Do not rinse.
    3. Use a regular comb to remove tangles.
    4. Get a fine-toothed comb or a detection comb. There are detection combs that come with or without prescriptions.
    5. Comb the hair using the detection comb. Make sure that it touches the scalp and reaches the tips of the hair.
    6. Work the entire head.
    7. Look at the comb and check for lice, nits, and eggs.
    8. If there are lice, nits, or eggs in the comb, wash it thoroughly first before running it through the hair again.
    9. Rinse off the conditioner once all areas of the head are combed through.
    10. Repeat the combing process to make sure every area is dealt with.
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  2. 2
    Dry Hair Technique.
    This only takes about 3-5 minutes, depending on the hair's thickness. This is not effective in treating lice.  
    1. Use an ordinary comb to untangle and straighten dry hair.
    2. Use the detection comb as soon as the tangles are removed.
    3. Start combing from the hair base to the hair tips. Do this about three to four times before combing the next area.
    4. Examine the detection comb for lice, nits, and eggs. Rinse the comb and dry it thoroughly before using it again.
    5. Perform the process until every portion of the hair is cleared.
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Symptoms of Pubic Lice

Pubic lice can also be acquired. This is spread through sexual intercourse. If a sexual partner detects pubic lice infestation in his or her own pubic area, both sexual partners should be treated to avoid spreading the parasites again. Pubic lice are usually colored grey or brown. They can be acquired from infested clothes, bedding, and towels. Pubic lice look like tiny crabs and that's why they are also known as "crabs". These are the symptoms you have to watch out for:

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  1. 1
    Grey dots or brown dots present on the skin near or on the pubic area.
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  2. 2
    Intense level of itching.
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  3. 3
    White eggs on the pubic hair shafts, very close to the roots.
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  4. 4
    Pubic lice can also be present on the hair shafts of hair that grow on your underarms, trunk, and thighs.
    They could even be present in mustaches and beards.
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Treatment for Pubic Lice

  1. 1
    Use special lice shampoos that are formulated to kill pubic lice.
    These shampoos work on dry pubic hair. Just be careful not to let the shampoo get in contact with mucus areas such as the anus or the vagina. The shampoo could burn or irritate the mucus areas. Leave the shampoo for on to 10 minutes.
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  2. 2
    Pour on enough warm water to lather the shampoo up.
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  3. 3
    Rinse the area thoroughly.
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  4. 4
    If the patient has a hairy pubic area, a detection comb should be used to check for head lice, nits, and eggs.
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  5. 5
    Rinse thoroughly.
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  6. 6
    Wash all clothes, sheets, undergarments, and towels using warm water for 20 minutes.
    This will ensure the death of the crabs.
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  7. 7
    Perform another treatment after seven to 10 days of the first treatment to get rid of the newly hatched pubic lice.
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Symptoms of Body Lice

Body lice move to your skin to feed and then return to the seams of your clothes. They lay their eggs in the seams. Home lice sprays can be used to kill the adult lice, nits, and eggs. Spray them on non-washable objects, vehicle interiors, furniture, and mattresses.

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Treatment for Body Lice

After ridding your body of lice, wash all linens, coats, scarves, hats (washable ones), towels, and garments using hot water. Use high heat in drying them for about 20 minutes. If the items are non-washable, have them dry-cleaned.

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Personal hygiene is important and checking for lice nits is a very significant part of it. Be vigilant in preventing this infestation so that you could have a lice-free, healthy lifestyle.

Tips

  • Do not share personal items such as combs, underwear, and towels with other people.
  • Choose a reputable hotel when traveling.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Eng, Anonymous, Mian Sheilette Ong

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