Are you noticing your hand reaching your head more often? Does it feel like there's a persistent itch that needs to be scratched but never seems to go completely? Has this been happening a lot lately? Then be warned; you might have the most dreaded hair care problem of them all: hair lice. Regular hair itching can be caused due to dandruff, an oily scalp or unclean hair. But if you feel like it has been going on for far too long with no shampoo or conditioner seeming to work, it just might be head lice.
Lice are wingless parasites that subsist on human blood. They are most commonly found on school children but can even spread in adults. This happens due to personal contact and sharing of items between individuals who have lice. Adult female lice can lay eggs and cause an infestation within a short span of time. They fall into 3 categories viz. head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Head lice reside on the scalp and are visible on the neck and ears. Body lice feed on the body and live in clothing or bedding. Pubic lice occur on skin and hair of the pubic area as well as over coarse chest hair.
(Also Read: Struggling With A Sweaty Scalp? 5 Tips To Reduce It)
So how does one know that they have head lice in the first place and what distinguishes it from any other type of head itch? Here's how to find out with the symptoms of head lice.
Tickling movement on your hair
Red bumps over the scalp, neck or shoulders
Before taking steps, confirm that it is head lice in the first place. Do this by inspecting the scalp under a light. They are grey to brown in colour and approximately the size of a sesame seed. They are visible on the scalp and can be seen better when hair is wet. If you are infected, ask someone to take a look at your scalp for you.
(Also Read: Here's How You Fix These 4 Common Haircare Woes)
Though head louse aren't generally life-threatening, it is important to tackle them when first spotted. When left untreated, head lice can be uncomfortable, hygienic and cause awkward itching. They may also carry infection.
Before we get into treating the haircare issue that is head lice, understand how to prevent it so that next time around, you are safer.
Avoid sharing personal items like hats, brushes and hair accessories when you suspect a lice infestation
Avoid sharing the same mattresses, sheets and beds
Thoroughly wash the infected individual's items in hot water or have them dry cleaned.
Once you suspect a hair lice infestation and confirm it is ongoing, is when you should move to the next step of treating them. It's important to treat hair lice as quickly as possible once detected to prevent spreading them any further, primarily because of how easily they spread. Getting rid of hair lice involves killing both the adult lice and their eggs to prevent them from spreading any more.
Wet-combing is a 2 person job that can be time-consuming. Wet the hair of the infected individual and apply conditioner to thicken the strands. With a louse brush or fine tooth comb, manually brush each hair section and pick out the lice with tweezers.
Generously apply a layer of oil to the infected individual's hair. You can use olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil as they are all easy to wash off later. Section the hair and carefully comb each of them with a fine-tooth comb. Wash your comb after every couple of sections. Then wash the oil out of the hair, let it dry and repeat the process once more. Continue this every day for 1-2 weeks.
Mix half a cup of olive oil with 15-20 drops of essential oil of tea tree, neem, or eucalyptus. Rub into the hair and scalp thoroughly, wear a shower cap and leave it overnight or for at least 12 hours. Then comb the hair and wash it off. Repeat this for a week.
(Also Read: 5 Ways To Get Rid Of Scalp Buildup)