Guide to identifying lice and their traces on the head

Identifying lice is the first step in fighting a lice infestation. Due to their small size, it is easy for them to escape from sight.

Last update: December 19, 2021

Identifying lice is essential, both to prevent their appearance and to combat an infestation. Although the latter is very unpleasant, it is necessary to say that it is a very common situation.

Contrary to what many think, these animals do not settle on the head due to lack of hygiene. Anyone can get them if they come in contact with someone who has them. This is why learning how to identify lice is so important.

This problem is much more common among children. Once they appear, they are not at all easy to get rid of.

How to identify lice?

In principle, the best way to identify lice is by being clear about what they look like. These are insects that are the size of a sesame seed. Its color ranges from brown to whitish. They do not fly or jump, but rather crawl.

Lice adhere to the skin of the scalp. However, they also move very fast, so they sometimes escape the eye. They have 6 legs that end in small claws. The females, which lay the eggs, are slightly larger than the males.

The best way to identify lice is by separating the hair into parts and using strong light and a magnifying glass to detect them. It is not easy, but with a little skill it is achieved.



Lifecycle

Typically, a louse will lay between 8 and 10 eggs a day. These take between 7 and 12 days to hatch and give rise to the young, which is the size of the head of a pin.

In a few days these animals are ready to mate and start a new cycle. The life span of each specimen is between 3 and 4 weeks.

The shape of the lice is characteristic, but a magnifying glass is needed to appreciate them well on the scalp.

What is the nit and how is it recognized?

Lice eggs are known by the name of nits. In general, it is easier to detect them than to identify head lice, since the latter are very fast and know how to hide.

Nits are oval in shape and white to yellowish in color. They are located on the sides of the hair shafts. Some of them are inactive, either because they are just shells or because they contain a dead louse.

In many cases, nits are mistaken for dandruff or scabs. The indicated thing is to lift a strand of hair from the scalp. If it’s dandruff, it will come off. If not, it will hold onto the hair shaft.

It is common for there to be more behind the ears and in the nape area.

The traces on the head

It may be that an infestation is detected based on the effects it produces on the affected person. Consequently, it is very important to watch out for the following signs:

  • Tingling sensation in the head.
  • Frequent itching on the scalp.
  • Increased tingling and itching at nightas lice are most active in the dark.
  • Head sores caused by scratching. These can become superinfected.

If the above signs are present, it is best to check the head in detail to identify the lice. When nits are rare, it means that an infestation has not yet occurred in the strict sense.

Frequent head scratching in a child should make one suspect the presence of lice.


Prevent lice

Lice are most commonly spread by head-to-head contact.. This is the reason why they are more frequent in young children, since they tend to have this type of contact in their games.

Likewise, these animals can be acquired when the head rubs against clothing or items in which there are lice, such as pillows and cushions. If it is known that there is someone with the infestation, you can go to a lice repellent. This one is not foolproof, but it can help.

For the rest, the following recommendations are useful to prevent infection:

  • Avoid head-to-head contact. In particular, this must be taught to children.
  • Do not share personal items such as caps, combs, helmets, headphones, hair ties, scarves.
  • Avoid lying on sofas, beds, rugs, or pillows that have been used by someone with lice.
  • Check the heads of all the people who live together after identifying the lice on one of them. This should be done every 3 to 4 days.
  • Wash all bedding and clothing of the infested person with hot water. The same should be done with hair styling products such as combs and brushes.
  • Vacuuming carpets and upholstered furniture in the house and in the car.
  • Any object that has been in contact with the infested person can also be put in a bag. This must be sealed for 7 days.
The periodic revision of the head is necessary in the families that detect that one of the members is infested.

Be constant in treatment

The first step is to identify the lice, but after this it may take a while to get rid of this pest. The indicated thing is to use an over-the-counter treatment to combat these annoying animals. It usually gives results, although constancy is required.

It is very important to check the head regularly and continuously, as sometimes with only a few nits remaining, proliferation begins again. To fight more effectively, it is best to cut your hair.

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