What Does Lice Look Like – Identifying Head Lice
With millions of children being infested each year, infestation with head lice has become a very common occurrence. So it’s important to know what does lice look lice and head lice symptoms. According to statistics, in every ten children, at least one will be infested with head lice. To many parents, head lice are disgusting, frustrating and annoying little pests that make childrens heads itch.
It is disheartening for any parents to see their children scratching their heads continuously every single day, so it is imperative to act on the problem as soon as the diagnosis proves that there is indeed a head lice infestation. But, what does lice look like? It is very common to misdiagnose head lice infestation and learning more on the physical attributes of head lice and how to identify them in their niche, the human hair, are essential in order to come up with the correct diagnosis which is necessary before treating head lice, especially when chemical treatment is used to address the problem.
What Does Head Lice Look Like?
Before getting into details, let us acquaint ourselves with these little crawlers living on top of our childrens heads. So what does lice look like? Human lice actually come in three different forms: the crab or pubic louse which is found on the pubic area, the body louse which lives off and lays eggs on clothing and proceeds to the human skin only when it needs to feed on blood, and finally, the head louse, which is commonly found on human head and infests mostly around and behind the ears and at the back of the neck.
All three are parasites that infest humans and only feed on human blood and appear different in physical appearance. Among them, head lice infestation is more prominent and thus the focus of this article. Head lice are very tiny creatures crawling on top of the head of the infested person. They are about the size of sesame seeds, roughly 2-3 millimeters in length. They are wingless creatures and can only crawl through the scalp and hair. They cannot jump, hop, leap or fly. Some lice appear clear white, some grayish while others appear dark brown. Head lice have their own unique life cycle. Usually their body color darkens when they finish feeding. They have an oval-shaped body which appears too big relative to the other parts of their body. Adult head lice have six legs with two big front claws used to gripping and attaching themselves firmly on the hair and scalp especially when they are feeding. A female adult head louse is normally bigger in size than a male adult head louse. She lays 6 to 8 eggs, also known as nits, every day. Nits are usually tan or yellowish in color before they hatch, and are attached firmly on the base of the hair shaft. They hatch within 8 to 9 days, revealing young head lice known as nymphs. Nymphs look exactly the same as adult head lice but are much smaller. They molt from their exoskeleton three times before becoming an adult head lice which normally takes 9 to 12 days from hatching.
How to Diagnose Head Lice Infestation
If you notice your child scratching his head consistently, the possibility of him having head lice is high. But jumping to conclusion and deciding that it is head lice without having to properly diagnose is not wise. In order to properly diagnose head lice infestation, you must have the answer to this question: what does lice look like in your hair? You already have the answer to what does lice look like, now it is time to know what they look like infesting your childs hair.
Not many people know what to look for in search for head lice, but looking through different lice pictures can help determine an infestation. Head lice are so tiny that it is very difficult to find one in your childs head. They move very fast, crawling through the hairs and scalp, making it difficult to find during your finger inspection. Head lice usually blend in to the color of the persons hair making the task of finding them more daunting. Finding an adult louse or a nymph proves that there is an active infestation; however, if none is found but abundant number of live nits is found firmly attached near the base of the hair shaft, there is the possibility of an infestation. Live nits are usually found near the back of the neck or behind the ears and are commonly misconstrued as dandruff or dirt residue by most people because of their size and color. Nits found farther away from the scalp are mostly empty shells which mean the infestation may be old and is no longer active.
Treating Head Lice
Treatment for head lice must be made after a correct diagnosis of infestation has been done. There are a number of lice treatment options for parents to choose from. One option is by applying over-the-counter or prescription lice medication on the infested person. In using lice products, it is essential to follow the instructions thoroughly to be 100% effective. Use of shampoo and conditioner prior to applying lice medicine is not advisable and you can only re-wash hair 1-2 days after the lice medicine is removed. There are parents who do not opt to choose chemical treatment though. For one thing, some head lice have become resistant to lice products and another is that chemical treatment may be harmful to kids aged 2 years and below who are infested with head lice.
Some opt to choose home remedies in dealing with their kids lice problems such as using olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, tea tree oil and other essential oils, and apply them on the hair overnight before washing it off the next day. Natural or non-chemical lice shampoos and lotions are also available for use. But regardless of what product is used, daily manual removal of head lice and nits is still vital to successfully eliminate these parasitic insects. This is done by using a fine-toothed lice or nit comb made especially for head louse and nit removal.