Health Services

Feeling Louse-y???

EphNotes

A NOTE ON THE TREATMENT OF HEAD LICE

Louse-y heads do not necessarily belong to lousy cleaners.

Head lice are common and are not a reflection of cleanliness. They are tiny parasitic insects that feed on human blood, but are not poisonous despite the itchy scalps that they cause. Lice infestations result from people spreading the insects to one another, something easily done in close-contact situations like child day care and college dorms.

Lice Forms: Nits, Nymphs, and AdultsLouse

Nits are the eggs, and are about the size of poppy seeds. They are either yellow-brown, or white. These grow into nymphs, which look like smaller versions of adult lice. Adult lice are about the size of sesame seeds and a similar tan or gray-white. The adults can live for up to 30 days on someone’s head, but only 2 days without a supply of human blood (i.e., in a hat, coat, pillowcase, rug, etc.). When on a human head, lice generally congregate behind the ears and at the nape of the neck.

Get a head check!

If you think that you might have lice, have someone carefully check your head for (and remove!) lice in all stages of growth. If you do find lice, the Health Center recommends picking up a package of RID at a local drugstore. It’s a good product for de-licing heads; just make sure to follow all the instructions completely and carefully.

Recheck!

No lice treatment actually kills all lice eggs, so a repeat check — and occasionally treatment, as well — is important. Make sure to recheck for lice and nits every 2 or 3 days after the initial treatment. Continue this for at least two weeks after the first treatment until there are no longer any lice or nits to be found.

Not a Louse in the House

Be sure to kill all the lice and nits that may have spread to clothing and furniture, too. To do this, wash all washable clothes and bed linens touched by the infected person during the 2 days before treatment. Dry-clean non-washable clothing. Anything else that can’t be washed or dry-cleaned (comforters, stuffed animals, etc.) can be put into a sealed plastic bag for 2 weeks. Combs and brushes can be soaked in rubbing alcohol or disinfectant for at least 1 hour. Vacuum the floors and furniture. Be thorough!!

Thanks to ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners for supplying relevant information.
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