aff: nits

The facts of lice

LICE FACTS

Lice have existed and lived side by side with mankind since the beginning of time. Lice infestations have been documented by every ancient civilization around the word. At many archeological sites, “nit combs” have been found, including solid gold ones entombed with Egyptian mummies.

There has been much folklore and myth surrounding the contraction and treatment of head lice over the centuries and I am here to bring you the facts as they are known today. We hope we can dispel the myths that so often accompany an outbreak of head lice.

 

THE SYMPTOMS

The classic symptoms of head lice are a very itchy scalp often accompanied by vigorous scratching. A sensation that something is moving or crawling through the hair is often felt. In some cases, you may find red sores or superficial red bumps or bite marks that are small red spots; especially around the ear area and nape of the neck which are two of head lice favorite spots to hang out in.

There are no health risks associated with having head lice and they are not known to carry any disease. However, children may have swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of the neck due to excrement and bacteria in the saliva of these parasitic insects that bite.

 

HOW TO CHECK FOR HEAD LICE

Head lice do not like bright light so it is best to check for head lice in direct sunlight or under a bright light. They can be very difficult to spot as they move quickly. The nits are easier to spot as they do not move and stay firmly attached to the hair strand(after the eggs hatch, the empty sac will still be attached to the hair strand) and the nymphs(baby lice) are the hardest of all to see as they move very quickly.

Carefully inspect your child’s head by dividing the hair into sections and closely examine the hair closest to the scalp; the first ¼-½ inch especially. Depending on the degree of infestation, it may be difficult to spot a lonely nit. However, it only takes one nit to trigger an infestation. So it is imperative that you take your time. A magnifying glass will be helpful as nits are often times smaller than a grain of salt. If you see dots or specs in the hair, try to see if they move when you blow on them.  A nit will be glued onto the hair strand and will not be easily blown away or fall off with movement. It will need to be pulled off as it is glued to the hair strand. The nits are usually oval in shape and can appear in varying colors such as, off white, yellow, brown or even reddish.

 

HOW HEAD LICE SURVIVE AND THRIVE

Head lice feed on the scalp about five times a day and they do so by piercing the head with tiny hook like claws. They then inject a tiny amount of saliva into the head in order to keep the blood from clotting and begin sucking tiny amounts of blood.

There are male and female head lice. The female louse can lay up to 150 eggs during its lifetime at a rate of about 6-8 per day. The life expectancy of a louse is 3-6 weeks from birth to death. This may vary with temperature, humidity and climate. There are three stages of a louse. First, the nit, also known as the egg is laid. After the eggs lays, a nymph (baby louse)is made. In time, the nymph then grows into an adult louse.

The female louse lays eggs close to the scalp; usually not further than the first ½ inch of the hair and may move down the hair shalf as they mature or as the hair grows. When an egg or nit hatches, it releases a nymph while the nit shell stays attached to the hair.

Nits are usually attached to one side of the hair by a type of nit glue that the female louse produces when the eggs. Therefore, the nits will not move from the hair strand when the hair moves, gets wet, or blown on. 

 

 

 

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LICE AND DREADLOCKS

I’m the perfect person to ask about this because during the first few weeks of having dreads I was inconvenienced with having to deal with lice. I was really embarrassed (which I now realize I shouldn’t have been) and I thought “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO SHAVE MY HEAD” and before taking any action, fully researched online about how to get rid of lice when you have dreads. People will say “people with dreads are dirty and prone to get bugs in their hair” but on the contrary, when I was researching I learned lice are more attracted to clean, less oily hair because it’s easier for them to maneuver through. If you’re around people who have lice, and are getting close, exchanging clothing, using eachother’s hairbrushes, etc, you are likely to contract lice from them whether you have brushable hair, dreads, oily hair, clean hair, whatever.

How I got rid of them: I’ve seen a bunch of recipes with peroxide, essential oils, olive oil, etc. and I wasn’t sure what to use or who to believe. I came across this one that had many good reviews and decided to use it. Pretty much what you will need is 70% and above (I used 91%) isopropyl alcohol, essential oils, and apple cider vinegar (ACV). It’s pretty simple, all you do is pour the alcohol on your dreads, you don’t need to douse them or put any on your scalp because it’s the fumes that kill them, and put a shower cap on and wait 10 minutes to make sure all the lice are dead. This doesn’t kill the nits (because they have their own pouch of air that they can survive on for hours), and since you can’t comb them out, you have to wait for them to hatch (about 7-10 days) and do the treatment again and kill them before they reproduce. CAUTION: The fumes of the alcohol are very powerful and if doing this treatment inside, it will nearly suffocate you so make sure there’s a window to stick your head out of or just do it outside.The ACV, tea tree oil, and rosemary oil is more for preventing lice in the first place, but they also soothe the scalp after treatments because the treatments are harsh on your skin. So when you’ve rinsed out the alcohol rinse with the AVC and oils. Just to be safe do one more treatment because you’ll want to make sure you’ve killed every last critter instead of thinking you have and then have a comeback.

But the thing is, getting rid of lice isn’t just a matter of getting them out of your hair, their nits are everywhere. Your pillows, carpets, blankets, clothes, etc. You need to wash everything and put it in the dryer on the hottest setting and this will ensure they eggs will not hatch. You can buy bed bug spray and spray that on furniture and your carpets. Other things that could possibly harbor eggs like necklaces, hair-ties, etc. need to either be soaked in isopropyl alcohol or contained for 2 weeks because they nits will hatch in 7-10 days and they can only survive 24-48 hours without living on the scalp. After treating lice make sure you check for nits in your hair everyday for weeks (it’s always good to have an annual check to be safe) so that you can treat them quickly if they do come back.

p.s. the adhesive that keeps the nits glued to your hair will loosen and the eggs will fall out of your loose hair that they’re attached to, no worries. I think that’s everything.. hope I helped for those with dreads who have lice and are shitting dicks trying to get rid of them.