What are Head Lice?
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Head lice are six-legged, wingless insects about the size of small ants, when fully grown. A baby louse is called a nymph, and is rounder in the body and only the size of a pinhead.
Lice are human parasites that live on the scalp and draw blood every few hours to feed. Lice are grayish in color (somewhat transparent) but right after they feed, they are a darker brown.
Lice have little claws that allow them to move at lightning speeds through the hair. Catching a glimpse of one is tricky, as they tend to scatter quickly when the hair is disturbed and they feel they are being hunted.
Female lice lay eggs (nits) in the hair. These nits are attached with a glue-like substance to the sides of individual hair shafts close to the scalp, and are not easily dislodged. Nits are camouflaged in the hair; they are a lighter color in lighter hair, and a darker color in darker hair.
Head lice are everywhere these days. Anywhere kids connect, lice can spread. Ninety-nine percent of head lice are shared through head to head contact. It is estimated that 6 to 12 million people are affected with head lice each year; children, ages 4 to 11, are the most likely recipients.
To check for head lice, use good light. Natural sunlight works great, or a bright spotlight will serve the purpose. Magnifying glasses can be very helpful.
There are several ways to detect lice and eggs:
1. Shake the head. Lay a white sheet out in the yard. Shake head and hair vigorously over the sheet to see if any bugs drop out. Lice have a good grip, but you can catch them off guard with this method and they may drop right out. Nits will not fall out with this approach.
2. Check for nits in dry hair. With very good lighting, divide long hair into four sections with clips or by making ponytails. With a fine-toothed comb, look through one section at a time, fanning through small amounts of hair; begin very near the scalp. A nit will be attached to a hair shaft like a leaf to a stem. Unlike dandruff, nits will not flick off or out of the hair. See this method in a video.
3. Check for nits with wet hair. Wet hair, apply Happyheads® Bye-Bye Lice Combing Solution and comb out any tangles. Divide hair into quadrants and comb through small sections of hair with a metal nit comb (the Terminator Metal Nit Comb is superior). Begin on the scalp and continue to graze the scalp as you pull the comb all the way down and off the hair shafts. Be sure to bring the comb to the ends of the hairs, otherwise nits will just be pushed down, not off. Wipe the comb on a white paper towel to check for nits and bugs. Repeat throughout the hair systematically. See this method in a video.
If you discover head lice in your family, get relief with Happyheads® Bye-Bye Lice Nontoxic Treatment Shampoo. Our enzyme-based lice shampoo is the most effective head lice product. Lice cannot become resistant to Happyheads® because these enzymes that cause the bugs to molt prematurely—which kills them on contact—are part of their necessary biology.