Do you usually feel uncomfortable itches around your scalp area? If you do, then you’re probably dealing with head lice.
Specifically, these blood-sucking insects are fond of mammals, humans, as their scalp provides both nutrition and shelter.
A head lice problem can be really annoying and can mess up your whole day, as it can cause you to keep scratching while you’re at work, a meeting, and even a social gathering.
As if scratching isn’t bad enough, head lice also take some of your nutrients away, as they suck your much-needed blood.
So, if you’re having a lice problem and have no idea what to do about it, then we suggest you keep reading. Because in this article, we will be discussing exactly how to get rid of lice!
The very first step to getting rid of lice is to understand their behaviours and characteristics. With this information, you can begin to take steps to get rid of lice, as well as preventing them from getting on your scalp.
Lice are very small insects that are usually light brown or grey in colour. They don’t have wings, but they can climb into the human scalp and feed on blood. Female lice also lay eggs very fast, which means a few lice can grow in population very fast if left untreated.
Children of 6 months of age and above are more affected by lice than adults, although these pests do not carry any diseases or spread viral infections. They are just too much of an inconvenience, and you must get rid of them immediately.
How Did You Get Lice?
While you can get head lice and nits from inanimate objects like pillows, this is not the most common way they spread. Rather, it is by making direct head contact with an infected person.
Unfortunately, head lices’ feet are specially made to cling onto human hair, making it so easy for them to hang on for as long as you leave them untreated.
It doesn’t take long for them to move from one host to the other either as little as a minute upon contact is enough for them to migrate over to the next host.
Lice can’t fly or leap, so crawling is their only option of movement. This means that having head lice isn’t actually a sign of poor hygiene. It just means you’ve made contact with an infected person.
Here are some of the major ways by which you can get head lice.
1. Direct contact with an infected person
As mentioned earlier, direct contact with an infected person is the fastest way to get head lice and nits. This can happen when you pat the person on the head, share a hug, or when the person lays their head on your body.
If you spend enough time within close contact, then the lice will successfully migrate over to you.
2. Sharing hats or scarves of an infested person
Another form of making contact with a louse-infested person is to put on their hats, scarves, helmets, or any other item they wear on their heads.
When the infested person takes off his hat or any other headgear, the lice can follow, and when you put them on, the lice will quickly make their way onto your scalp.
3. Sharing combs and hairbrushes
This is another common way by which you can pick up head lice. When a louse-infested person combs their hair, some lice will stick to the comb and be transferred to any other person that uses the same comb.
Using the hairbrush or comb of a louse-infested person will get you infested immediately. As I have said before, the feet of lice are great at clinging on to human hair, so they will have no trouble moving from the comb or brush onto your hair.
4. Sharing hair accessories
Similar to a comb or hairbrush, sharing hair accessories like a roller or hairpin of a louse-infested person can also give you lice.
5. Sharing headphones
Headphones make direct contact with a person’s head, which means making direct contact with head lice, too (if the person has any).
If you use the headphones of an infected person, then you too can be infested with lice.
6. Sharing pillows
If you spend the night at a friend’s place, and that person is infested with lice, then you too can get them simply by using their pillows.
How Do You Know You Have Head Lice?
Now that you know how to get head lice let’s discuss how you can tell if you actually have them.
Here are the signs below.
• Severe itching of the scalp area, neck, or ears
• Visible lice on your scalp
• Visible lice on your comb or hairbrush after combing
• Lice eggs on your hair shaft
• Sores on your scalp
How Long Do Lice Live?
Thankfully, lice don’t live for very long, especially when they have no host to feed on.
Here’s the average life cycle of a louse
• Eggs hatch after 6 to 9 days
• hatched lice develop into mature adults in about two weeks
• Adult lice can live anywhere between two weeks to 4 weeks
That being said, it is worthy of mentioning that adult female lice lay between 6 to 10 eggs per day.
How Do You Get Rid Of Lice Overnight?
Severe itching can really keep you uncomfortable all through the night. If you feel constant itches before you go to bed, here are a few lice treatments you can employ to get rid of head lice overnight.
1. Wet combing
Wet combing is one of the easiest lice treatments you can do.
You can dip your fine-toothed comb in hot water and use it to comb from your scalp to the tip of your hair. This will help you get rid of the lice and their eggs.
You can repeat the process several times to make sure you get out as many lice as you can.
To ensure you don’t get any lice back into your hair on the subsequent combs, you can dip the comb into another bowl of water and shake it thoroughly to dislodge any lice that may be clinging on.
2 Use essential oils
Essential oils are also among the most effective lice treatments you can try.
Some essential oils can kill nits and adult lice by suffocating them. Examples of these oils include ylang-ylang oil and tea tree oil.
Apply them deep into your scalp before you go to bed, and the lice will be dead in a matter of minutes. You can also dip your comb into the essential oils and go over your scalp to the tip of your hair with it.
3. Use smothering agents
There are some home products that you can use to get rid of lice overnight. These are smothering agents such as benzyl alcohol lotion, petroleum jelly, olive oil, mayonnaise, and butter.
These agents work by depriving the lice of air and smothering them. I advise you to put on a shower cap after applying these agents and leave it on all through the night for best results.
A blast of hot air can kill lice overnight, so if you have a blow drier at home, then you can use that to dehydrate the head lice and kill their eggs.
What Kills Head Lice Instantly?
All living things need food to survive, and lice, in particular, feeds on human blood. That being said, combing the lice off your head and leaving them without a host can cause them to starve to death.
Lice will die within a day if they have nothing to eat.
For more instant results, you can suffocate them by applying essential oils to your scalp, as this will kill them within minutes.
Heat can also terminate lice and eggs immediately, so you should consider using a blow drier set at the highest to kill lice.
Deterring Live Lice From Coming Back
After successfully removing the lice from your hair, you would want to deter them from returning.
Petroleum jelly is a good way to do this, as its thick texture can stop crawling lice from making their way to your scalp and hair. All you have to do is apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your scalp and leave it until the next wash.
If this approach is too greasy for you, then essential oils can be used instead.
Blend some tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, or red thyme oil and apply it to your scalp. You can do the same for your children if they, too, are infested.
Make this a daily practice to ensure that the lice don’t return.
There are commercial hair treatments that contain these essential oils, and you can buy them from a haircare store and apply a few drops to your head or child’s head every morning to act as a lice repellent.
Cleaning Personal Items
Head lice treatment isn’t necessarily the same thing as killing them. After all, they won’t die if they are combed off. They’ll remain on the comb or brush, waiting to latch on to the hair of the next person that uses them.
It’s true lice will die in 24 hours without a host, but it doesn’t take 24 hours for someone else to pick up a lice-infested comb and use it.
That being said, I advise you to wash the combs and brushes you have used to get rid of live lice from your scalp. Before treating the lice, you should also wash your bedsheets, pillowcases, hats, and any other item you have contacted.
I advise that you wash with hot water since heat can kill lice. Also, please place them in a dryer, then vacuum all the possible areas where the lice may have fallen.
If the item cannot be washed (stuffed animals, for instance), you can place them in an air-tight plastic bag and leave it for a few days to ensure the lice are dead.
Personal Hygiene Approaches For Preventing Lice Infestation
To ensure that you don’t get lice, you should practice proper personal hygiene. This is not to say you aren’t already practicing good hygiene; it just means you should be careful about the way you use the belongings of others, as they can be filled with lice.
That being said, here are some things you should not do.
1. Do not share combs or hairbrushes
If you’re in a public place and you find that your hair is roughed up, you should buy a comb to set your hair straight. This is much better than borrowing from a friend or colleague, as theirs may have head lice on them.
To avoid this scenario altogether, you should have your comb or brush with you anywhere you go.
2. Do not share towels
If you must spend the weekend at a friend’s, you should go along with your personal items, and a towel has to be included.
Adult lice can latch on to towels just as good as they can latch on human hair, so avoid using a potential lice-infested one.
3. Do not share headphones
If your friend asks you to listen to the latest song from your favourite pop star via headphones, decline and ask that they play it through the phone’s speaker.
This way, you’ll be avoiding the risk of being invaded by head lice.
4. Do not share hats or other headgear
If you’re of the habit of borrowing hats and other headgear from your friends, then you need to stop.
Sharing anything anyone wears on their head is one of the easiest ways to get head lice.
It is very easy for a person to get head lice, as making physical contact with friends and family is almost inevitable.
Thankfully, they are also very easy to get rid of; follow the tips provided here. And if they don’t work, then visit a specialist to advise diagnosis or treatment. They can also recommend prescription medications to help you with the itching.
We trust this article on how to get rid of lice has been helpful.