It's a parent's worst nightmare. Well, maybe not worst, but when your child catches head lice, it can really result in a headache. Head lice are a type of parasite which spread quickly through contact with the infected person's head, and one case of head lice can have your whole house scratching their heads in due time.
Lice prey on human blood. When they are present on your child's head, they will feed roughly every four to six hours, and can cause your child plenty of itching and scratching. Your child may not feel the irritation for even weeks after he or she has become infected, but they may feel the presence of the lice crawling around on their scalp, causing a tickling sensation.
One of the best ways of noting the presence of head lice in your child is checking for the presence of nits. Nits are the eggs that the head louse lays, which take seven to ten days to hatch. They are attached to the follicles of the hair, and they can be diagnosed by their yellow, tan, or brown color when present on your child's hair follicles. They may appear to look like dandruff, but you can easily tell the difference by trying to remove the particle. If the dot is still sticking to the hair follicle despite your best efforts, odds are it is a nit. Nits are easier to find than the actual lice, so check for these first.
The adult head louse is roughly the size of a sesame seed. These tiny insects do not have wings and cannot leap like a flea, they merely crawl from place to place on the head. It has six legs which have claws on the ends, allowing the louse to hang on to your hair follicles.
When checking for the presence of nits or lice on your child's head, the best technique is to part the child's hair into small sections, carefully checking to note the insects or eggs if present. You may want to use a magnifying glass in order to correctly identify the lice. Adult lice can move fast, however, and so the best way to diagnose a case of lice is to detect the presence of nits.
If you've detected lice on your child, one of the most important things that you can do is to call their school's principle. Lice outbreaks can be devastating, and by letting the other children's parents know about the problem, you can decrease the risk that your child will become afflicted again. Also, be sure to wash the child's linens after you've destroyed the lice in order to prevent re-infestation. Make sure that everyone in the house is safe from the bugs, as well; you should check over everyone's scalps to ensure that no more lice are present.
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