Your child’s school just sent a note home letting parents know that a few students have it. The school advises all parents to watch for lice symptoms and, if symptoms of lice present themselves, to make sure all lice have been removed from your child’s hair before sending your child back to school. Of course, you’ve heard of head lice. The very name strikes fear in the hearts of many. When you were growing up, the only kids you remember who had lice symptoms were the ones who never washed their hair. To bust a common myth, lice do not care how clean a person’s hair is. Some even suggest lice like clean hair because it allows them to more easily attach eggs.
So, what are head lice? While they don’t burrow under the skin, they do suck blood. Lice very rarely cause diseases, unlike fleas and ticks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep other children from teasing kids who do have lice. Head lice are very easily spread from one person to another, and they are very hard to kill. Each year between 6-12 million people get head lice, more generally infecting individuals with long hair rather than short hair. Lice infestations are most common in children between the ages of 5 and 12.
Here are some head lice symptoms that may indicate someone has head lice:
- An itchy scalp – Half of all people who have a lice infestation are allergic to the saliva of the lice. This triggers a reaction that causes intense itching. Itching develop two weeks after initial infestation
- Something moving on your scalp – Have you ever had an ant or a piece of sand on your scalp? Lice can feel the same way.
- Scalp Irritation – Your scalp can become red and inflamed due to scratching or bites from the lice.
- Redness or Swelling on the Neck or Around the Ears – Lice like warmth, and the neckline and around the ears are the warmest areas on your head.
- Nits (or Lice Eggs) – If your child has what looks like dandruff but it is stuck to the hair, it may be nits. White or light colored nits are probably empty egg sacks. Brown nits probably still have lice larvae inside.
- Unusual Tiredness – Lice continue to be active at night. Itching can keep many up all night, which leads to abnormal sleep patterns and tired, cranky kids and parents.
- Other Family Members or Friends Have Head Lice – Head lice are very easy to spread. Even if you take precautions like not sharing combs, brushes or other hair items, lice can spread quickly.
Keep these symptoms of head lice in mind, the earlier you discover head lice, the easier it is to get rid of them.