4 Ways to Avoid Head Lice

May 7th 2016

The transfer of lice from one individual to another is not always avoidable. Immediate treatment is necessary to stop the lice from spreading to household items, furniture, clothing and family members. Physicians commonly recommend an over-the-counter medicated lotion, cream rinse or shampoo to kill lice. It may take a few applications to kill the lice and for itching to cease. You may also need to hand pick the nits from your head or use a comb to remove lice if the eggs have latched on or hatched on the scalp.

Practice Proper Hygiene

Keep your hair clean and shampooed to eliminate the risk of lice. Bedding, furniture upholstery and clothing that has been accessed by other people should also be washed, vacuumed and cleaned on a regular basis. Lice can thrive in warm spaces and easily attach to your hair and scalp, even when you are sitting on furniture that has been exposed to lice. Once lice attach to your hair, they begin to lay eggs, known as nits, on the scalp that look like brown, tan or yellow dots before they hatch. Lice typically lay eggs close to the scalp on your hair shafts because the temperature is warm and ideal for hatching.

Avoid Sharing Products and Accessories

You are at risk of contracting lice if you share brushes, combs, hair clips, hats or scarves with other people. Headsets, earbuds and towels can also transfer lice. It may seem harmless to borrow a friend's brush, but lice can transfer easily from products, clothing and accessories. It may be inconvenient to disinfect items within your home, but it can prevent lice from spreading.

Minimize Embraces

It is natural to hug close friends and family members when you greet them, but if a person has lice, the parasites can transfer from the infected person's clothing or hair to your body. Keep a distance from people who have lice until they have been treated. Also avoid playing games that prompt individuals to put their heads together with the hair touching. Lice can travel quickly from one head to another when people are embracing or wrapping their arms over each other's shoulders with their heads close.

Monitor Shared Spaces

Shared spaces are also a breeding ground for lice. You are at risk for contracting lice from an infected person's belongings near lockers, closets, drawers and clothes hooks. Keep clothing out of common areas as a precaution and wash all articles of clothing that have been in contact with a person who has lice.

Conclusion

Head lice are wingless and tiny parasitic insects that feed on blood drawn from your scalp. Contracting lice in human hair is common, especially among children. The annoying critters are contagious and can be difficult to remove from your scalp, but they do not spread disease. The most common symptom is an itchy and irritated scalp. Learn how to avoid the nits that hatch from lice eggs from infecting your head, your family and your belongings.

Sources

AAD.org "Head lice: Tips for preventing" https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/head-lice/tips
KidsHealth.org "Head lice" http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/head_lice.html
Healthline.com "Head lice prevention" http://www.healthline.com/health/lice/head-lice-prevention#Overview1

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