A few weeks ago, we welcomed an unwanted visitor into our home. He certainly wasn’t invited, he just showed up. And then he decided to stick around for a days before we finally convinced him to leave.
I’m talking about the pesky little guy, Mr. Lice. Perhaps he’s visited your house too. If you have young children, chances are that if you haven’t seen him yet, he may be planning a visit to your home too.
The CDC reports that an estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. Some studies suggest that girls get head lice more often than boys, probably due to more frequent head-to-head contact.
Mr. Lice is an ectoparasite whose only host are humans. He feeds on blood several times daily and resides close to the scalp to maintain his body temperature. He is not known to cause or carry disease.
Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. Spread by contact with clothing (such as hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, or towels) used by an infested person is uncommon. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice (CDC, 2016).
So what are the symptoms to watch for?
First and foremost, itching. This was the symptom that tipped us off. Our daughter complained to us that her head was so itchy. We examined her closely and found Mr. Lice and a few of his buddies conveniently hanging out on our daughter’s scalp.
Aside from the itching, symptoms may also include a tickling feeling or a sensation of something moving in the hair; irritability and sleeplessness; and sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores caused by scratching can sometimes become infected with bacteria normally found on a person’s skin (CDC, 2016).
Once we realized that Mr. Lice was staying with us, we wanted to immediately begin his eviction process. I went to Walgreens and was overwhelmed by the amount of choices that were available to eliminate head lice.
I used my iphone to look up reviews of all the different head lice products and found one that I was comfortable purchasing. What you need to remember with all of these products is that you should follow the directions exactly as they are written.
And then, you repeat the treatment in 7 to 10 days, to ensure that you get any nits (eggs) that were still lingering and/or hatched after the first treatment. If over the counter treatments are not getting you the results you desire, you can see your doctor for prescription strength treatments.
It is also important that you get a head lice comb. I bought one called the Terminator, and it did an excellent job on my daughter’s head. After each use, we boiled it for ten minutes. We also used the comb to check each member of our family’s head to ensure Mr. Lice hadn’t spread throughout the house.
And finally, keep in mind is that it is wise to treat your home as well. Wash all clothing that comes in contact with your affected child in hot water. If you cannot wash something, put it in a plastic bag, seal it up, and leave it alone for a few weeks.
If you have young children, it’s not a bad idea to take the time to learn about Mr. Lice before he shows up to your house. Learn about his life cycle, how you get rid of him, and what you can do to keep your home safe.