How To Identify Head Lice

Jul 7 07:28 2010 Paula Tooney Print This Article

If your child comes back from school scratching his head, maybe he has head lice. Before making any treatment you should make a diagnosis therefore the first thing you should be able to do is identifying head lice.

Except in cases of heavy infestation,Guest Posting it is a real headache to know whether your children have lice or not. Who does not scratch his head just when thinking about it? Spotting them is even more difficult as head lice move quickly (23 centimeters per minute) and can deceive the best trained eye. We think that lice necessarily cause itching, but itching is in fact the result of an allergic reaction to the saliva that the louse injects into the skin while feeding, and many people do not have any reaction.

There is only one way to identify head lice: it is necessary to check regularly the hair of our kids, and remember that a child with nits can have lice, but not necessarily.

What type of insects should you be expecting to see?

Head lice are tiny insects that change color and that are difficult to spot. They are grayish and have six legs that end with hooks. The head louse is a bloodsucking insect, which means that he feeds exclusively on human blood. Lice become red when they have taken their meal.

The adult louse measures between 2 mm and 4 mm. The head louse lives on the scalp of humans. His favorite place is the neck and around the ears, the two coolest locations of the head. Indeed the louse likes rather cool temperatures between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius. A louse can live between 6 to 8 weeks.

At the end of the louse’s legs there is a hook that allows him to cling to the hair and resist brushing, head movements and other shocks that could bring him down. But he happens to fall sometimes, and also to move from one head to another. This is how children get lice!

As far as nits are concerned, they are the eggs laid by the female louse, and they measure less than one millimetre. They can easily be taken for dandruff, but they will actually stick to the hair to which they are glued by a strong cement. This is why nits do not go unnoticed, as they form a kind of small ball attached to the hair that can not fall when we shake the head.

How can you identify head lice easily?

Identifying head lice is easier if you have a very fine comb (the famous lice comb) because you can wet the hair and then comb it for lice. If you think this is head lice but you really can’t see any, it is always possible to make an anti-lice shampoo, but these shampoos are very aggressive for the scalp and can actually cause more intense itching than the lice themselves.

You should be combing and looking for lice in the following areas:
- Near the scalp: lice and nits are usually about less than one inch away from the scalp, and this is where you should carefully comb the hair section by section. 
- Behind the ears: this is a favorite place for lice, especially for nits, as this is where female lice will lay most of their eggs.
- Above the neck: this is another favorite place for lice, for the same reasons as behind the ears.
- On the top of the head: there is usually a concentration of lice there, and you should be combing this area carefully for lice and nits.

Once you have identified head lice and nits you should treat the person immediately. There are many powerful home remedies that will help you get rid of them and ensure they won’t come back.

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Paula Tooney
Paula Tooney

HeadLiceCenter is a reliable resource: learn how to detect head lice, and look at pictures of head lice and eggs. You'll also have access to a free mini-course on how to kill lice naturally.

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