How To Know If You Have Lice

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How Do I Know If I Have Lice?

The mere thought of it is enough to make most people squirm, but if lice are a concern, then diagnosis and fast action are crucial. Diagnosing lice is a tricky endeavor. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that misdiagnosis of head lice infestation is common by parents, caregivers, teachers, hairdressers, school nurses, and even doctors. When lice are misdiagnosed, it not only places the burden of absenteeism on children from school and parents from work according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health, but it also causes unnecessary overexposure to hazardous chemicals that are found in traditional over-the-counter and prescription head lice treatments.As explained in a report from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research:

Despite the best efforts of school nurses and laypersons, who frequently make decisions about treatment of lice infestations in schools, the current approach to treating head lice is misdirected because infestations continue to spread and respond less to treatment.
- Dr. Craig G. Burkhart, Mayo Clinic (2004)

We are here to unravel the mysteries of lice diagnosis and treatment. Drawing from our years of experience diagnosing and treating thousands of people at our lice treatment clinics, we are prepared to divulge some secrets, including our tricks of the trade! Ready to become a lice eradication expert? Let’s go!

We know discovering lice can be confusing, be we are here to share with you 
you all the information you need to diagnose lice properly and get rid of it quickly!

What Are Lice?

First, let’s make sure we cover the most rudimentary of all the bases: What are lice? Lice are wingless parasites that feed on human blood.Lice only receive nourishment from human blood and are therefore not found on pets or other animals. 

Head lice grabbing onto the hair shaft

Where Do Lice Live?

There are three different types of lice: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Biologically, the main difference between head lice and body lice is their habitat. In fact, their physical appearance and anatomy are so similar that it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the two with the naked eye. That being said, head lice are found on the head and scalp, whereas body lice are located anywhere else on the body and on clothing. Head lice cement their eggs to the hair shaft, and body lice adhere their eggs to the fibers in clothing.

In regards to pubic lice, this type of louse is very distinct in appearance from both the head and body louse. It visually resembles a crab, which is how the nickname of “crabs” caught on. Pubic lice affect the genital area, making a habitat out of the hair in the groin area.

You can tell which type of lice you have depending on which area of your body is affected. Head lice live on the scalp, body lice live on clothing and affect areas of the body that are often found in the seams of clothing, and pubic lice settle in the groin area. Each type of lice stays in its “territory” and does not cross over to other areas of the body.  


Head Lice

Head lice dwell on the human scalp and are approximately 2 mm to 4 mm long as adults. They make their habitat and home out of human hair, which is also where they lay their eggs. They cement their eggs onto the hair shaft within 1-2 inches of the scalp. Head lice have not been proven to be associated with transmitting any diseases, bacteria, or viruses (although there are some theories that they might). The main symptom they cause is itching of the scalp. They feed every 3 to 6 hours on blood drawn through the scalp and can cause tingling sensations (some people describe it as a burning sensation) or tiny red bumps. In recent years, head lice have evolved into Super Lice and are now immune to the majority of over-the-counter and prescription products. Eradication must be done with a product that is not comprised of chemicals that Super Lice are resistant to. The number one choice for lice and Super Lice elimination is Lice Choice.


Body Lice

Body lice generally live in your clothing and lay their eggs inside the seams of your clothing. They usually travel each day from the clothing onto the body to feed from different areas of a human’s body. Body lice infestation occurs most often when you come into contact with someone who has body lice,or if you share clothes or a bed with that individual.

Body lice bites do cause severe itching and skin irritation.Typically, those are the main symptoms of body lice. However, it is important to be aware that body lice bites can actually spread disease. Body lice can carry and spread diseases such as typhus and trench fever. Whereas head lice do not have the potential to infect human hosts with diseases, body lice do have the ability!

Body lice are eradicated with lice treatments, washing all clothing and cloth materials that could have been infested in hot water at 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and drying them at the same temperature. It is also recommended to place all potentially lice-infested items such as pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and car seats into plastic bags and store them for two weeks to ensure all body lice are killed. 


Pubic Lice

Pubic lice are a very different type of louse than body or head lice. They are 1.6mm in size, and the shape of their body is similar to that of a tiny crab.The typical way people spread pubic lice is through sexual contact. However, it is possible to get pubic lice from sharing clothing, towels, or a bed with an infested individual.

Pubic lice mainly affect the area in the groin; however, they are capable of spreading to other areas of the body that have coarse hair. Possible areas for pubic lice infestation include legs, chest, armpits, facial hair, and very rarely the eyelashes or eyebrows. While not known to be a cause or carrier of diseases, they can contribute to secondary infections from itching and scratching, and have actually been known to cause pinkeye.

Just like body lice and head lice, they feed on human blood, and their bites cause itching and tiny red bumps. Pubic lice treatment includes applying topical creams and lotions to kill these parasites, the same as with head lice and body lice.  


Life Cycle of Lice

The life cycle of all three types of lice starts when a louse egg - also called a nit - is attached to the hair follicle or clothing fiber. The nit is firmly cemented to the follicle or fiber with a unique fluid secreted by the female louse. The egg then gestates for around  seven days before hatching as a nymph (immature louse).

The nymph turns into an adult louse in roughly seven to ten days, after a process of maturation that includes shedding its exoskeleton three times. This molting stage takes around one and a half weeks. Once mature, the female louse lives about 20 more days; during that time, she can lay up to 100-150 eggs. On average, a female louse will lay between four to eight eggs in a single day. 

What Are The Symptoms of Lice?

All forms of lice are highly contagious and spread very quickly from person to person, primarily from very close contact. For all three different types of lice, the symptoms are the same; a feeling of something crawling in the infected region and intense itching usually paired with skin irritation.

Naturally, the area that itches indicates where the lice reside. Lice biting human skin can induce irritated and itchy red welts or bumps. However, these welts and bumps are more noticeable with body lice as compared to head lice, because there is less volume of hair to hide the marks. Other possible symptoms of lice can include insomnia and irritability.

We must mention here that not all people who contract lice actually experience the symptom of itchiness.The reason the skin itches is primarily due to a small allergic reaction to the saliva that lice inject into the skin as they draw out human blood. Since not everyone’s body reacts immediately to this, the sensation of itchiness can be delayed for up to six weeks after being infested with lice. Itchiness and lice usually go hand in hand, but not always. We have treated many people in our clinics who were "positive" they did not have lice because they were not itchy at all and then were shocked to see how many bugs and nits we removed from their head!


What is the Difference in Symptoms Between Lice and Dandruff?

It is true that dandruff, like lice, can cause severe itching, so it is essential to know the difference between the two conditions.Dandruff is not contagious, nor is it an infection. Dandruff is simply a common scalp irritation that causes the skin of the scalp to become dry, flaky, and itchy. It is the itchiness combined with the flakes that often confuses and even alarms people.

Unfortunately, it is quite common to confuse dandruff flakes with lice or lice eggs. Rest assured there are some telltale signs to look out for to tell if you have dandruff or lice. We’re here to unravel the confusing bits and get to the heart of the matter.

Lice are not dandruff. How can you be sure, though? Lice are parasites that move. If you think you have caught a louse in your hand while running your fingers through your hair, observe if it moves or not.Also, if there is no movement, you should be able to see six tiny legs protruding from the body.

Lice are approximately the size of a sesame seed. So if you cannot see the legs easily, we recommend putting the sample on a piece of clear tape and viewing it under bright light and a magnifying glass.

Lice eggs (nits) are even tinier than lice, around the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen.This makes it even harder to distinguish between a piece of dry scalp and a nit! Again, place what you’ve found on a piece of sticky tape and use a magnifying glass. Lice eggs are teardrop-shaped and can be clear, beige, dark brown or white, depending on what stage they're in. 

Dandruff is usually white and oddly shaped. Once a louse exits the egg, the empty shell is white. Empty shells can actually remain adhered to the hair shaft for several months after lice have been eradicated. That’s why the best comb on the market - the Lice Choice Terminator Nit Comb - is necessary to remove both lice eggs and their empty eggshells. The importance of using a metal comb like the Lice Choice Terminator Nit Comb is explained by Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist with Consumers Union, saying:

When removing nits, it's important to use a metal — not plastic — nit comb... 'because the tines of those metal combs, they're small enough so that an individual hair can go through, but not the egg itself.'
- Michael Hansen(2014)

It is important to note that not all metal combs are equally effective.What makes our comb superior to other metal combs is the patented micro-grooved notches on the teeth. These notches grab onto the nits and trap them so you can easily pull them off the hair shaft. This nit comb works most effectively in combination with the Lice Choice Head Spray, which dissolves the glue that adheres the nits to the hair, making them easy to slide off. Our Head Spray also helps the nit comb glide through the hair, which prevents you from pulling out loads of hair while effectively removing nits.

An important thing to remember is that dandruff (as seen in this photo) can be easily removed from the hair or the scalp with fingers, a brush, or a comb.It very nearly falls out into the hand after being tousled a little. However, lice have no desire whatsoever to leave their hairy home and will vehemently cling to the scalp and hair follicles. Plus, they move quickly, so you have to act fast to grab them. They are not so easily removed.

Even more difficult to remove are lice eggs (nits), which are quite literally glued to the hair shaft by the female louse.To remove a nit from the hair by hand, you would have to grab it securely with your fingernails and slide it all the way down to the bottom of the hair strand. Most likely, you will lose your grip on it part way down and will have to go back and retrieve it several times. This is a tedious and time-consuming task. Hence the need for the Nit Terminator Comb.

Remember that even though dry scalp can appear to be nits, close examination can distinguish between the two. Having a magnifying glasswith a good light source will prove most helpful. You should remember that dandruff and head lice, though both distinct types of skin irritants, are not the result of poor hygiene.


What Do I Do If I Have Lice?

Once a lice infestation is confirmed, immediate action should be taken to eliminate these parasites.You certainly don’t want to sit around, wait, and hope that lice will just go away. Lice are very happy to have a new cozy home to set up shop in, so they will not go away without treatment.

Starting as soon as possible will give you a leg up on the lice. We know that as soon as lice are diagnosed, panic sets in. Having a good plan of attack for what to do if you have lice is imperative. You can stay calm, cool, and controlled, knowing that you have us on your side and Lice Choice products at the ready.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the steps to follow if you discover lice on your head or the head of a family member. Bloodsuckers begone!

According to the Canadian Journal Paediatrics & Child Health,  once you find a live louse on the head, the diagnosis is confirmed. Since dandruff and even lint or residue from styling products can be confused for lice eggs, locating an actual living, breathing louse qualifies as official lice diagnosis and means that it is time to start lice treatment. However, it is common for people to have nits without ever finding visible evidence of the louse who laid them.This can happen because sometimes the louse lays eggs and then dies and falls off the head before a treatment is done. Or the louse can lay eggs in one person’s hair and then transfer to someone else’s.

Remember that if a live louse is discovered on your head or your child’s head at school or work, that individual may finish the school or workday, if they refrain from close person-to-person contact and do not share any personal items with classmates and coworkers. Once you reach home, treatment begins.

Since the over-the-counter and prescription products have been rendered ineffective due to Super Lice’s resistance to their active ingredients, enemy number one for both lice and Super Lice is Lice Choice’s unique formula that uses digestive enzymes against them. The ineffectiveness of traditional over-the-counter treatments is explained by the expert John Clark from the University of Massachusetts, saying: 

While the official recommendation for treatment will likely include using a product on their hair that contains pyrethrins or permethrin, scientists are finding that head lice have acquired resistance to those compounds. Over the past 35 years or so, head lice have built up considerable resistance to the pyrethroids via genetic mutations.
- John Clark (2014)

Since our solution is organic enzyme-based and chemical-free, it is impossible for lice to develop resistance to our products. We say impossible? We mean impossible.


Lice Choice Treatment Products and Procedures

First shampoo and condition your hair normally. Dry your hair completely and detangle it, while refraining from using any other additional hair products. That means no gels, mousses, detangling spray, leave-in conditioners, or anything else. Then, turn Lice Choice Head Lice Spray upside down for a couple of seconds to mix the enzymes, remembering not to shake the bottle.

Cover the eyes with a towel as you saturate the head and all hair thoroughly- from the scalp all the way to the ends of the hair. Please make sure that all hair is fully coated. If any areas or spots are left dry, the lice will quickly crawl to that treatment-free area to ensure their survival.

After saturating the head and hair, detangle it and proceed to section off the hair into very thin, small sections; use our Lice Choice Nit Terminator Comb to systematically comb across the scalp to remove nits and lice. Unfortunately, you cannot effectively pull all the nits and lice from your own scalp! Having a family member or friend's help is crucial to complete removal. If the hair is long, we recommend using clips to make sectioning the hair even easier.

If hair begins to dry out during the combing process, spray each section again before you comb it to ensure that the hair stays fully saturated.

After treatment and nit combing is finished, please leave the Lice Choice Head Lice Spray in the hair for 24 hours, as it serves as a protective coating on the hair that discourages lice from infestation. We have specially formulated our Head Lice Treatment Spray without any oils in it, so when it dries, your hair won't look greasy at all. That means you can style your hair as usual, with a hair dryer and flat iron, and even add your normal gel, mousse, or hair spray products right on top of our solution. Another bonus is that our spray barely has a scent, so no one will smell anything unusual in your hair or know that you have used a lice product (unlike most other lice products on the market which have a strong smell). Awesome, right? You’re welcome!

If you were wondering how to clean the nit comb , place it under warm running water and use an old toothbrush to force the nits out between the teeth. Make sure every last nit is removed from the comb by holding it up to a bright light and looking through your magnifying goggles to double-check for any stragglers.

Re-treat the hair every four days. When you do not see any nits or lice being removed, wait four more days and then do one additional treatment to be 100% sure that lice are gone - and gone for good! If just a couple nits or lice are left behind on the scalp, a re-infestation can easily occur.That’s why we encourage everyone to wait the extra four days and apply one last treatment.

For extra safety measures, spray your fabric furniture, carpets, pillows, and blankets with our Lice Choice House Spray that eliminates lice from upholstered and fabric surfaces. As our products are chemical-free, non-toxic, and natural, you won't have to worry about them damaging or discoloring any fabrics. Caution: Do not spray leather or wood because our House Spray solution could damage the finish on those surfaces. The good news is, lice can't hold on to smooth surfaces anyway, because they need a fiber to grab on to. So your leather, wood, marble, vinyl, plastic, and tile surfaces don't need to be treated for lice at all. 

If you’d prefer, you can always dry anything like clothing, hats, and stuffed animals that you think might be infested with lice. Just make sure it stays in the dryer at high heat for 30 minutes. And when vacuuming your carpets, immediately empty your canister or bag.  Feel like fumigating with bug bombs? Absolutely not. Fumigation will cause more problems than it solves!


Final Thoughts On Quick Lice Removal

Skip the useless, impotent drugstore and prescription lice treatments and opt for a lice treatment that's safe and effective. Using a pesticide product that doesn’t work on Super Lice only slows down the treatment process, not just by days but by weeks and even months!

Our Lice Choice products are a natural solution to your lice problem. It is safe for the entire household with its organic, hypoallergenic formula that is soft and gentle on every skin type. Our Lice Choice Complete Head and House Lice Treatment Kit contains all that you need to eliminate lice and their eggs quickly, safely, and effectively. Remember, Lice Choice is enemy number one to both lice and Super Lice.

Lice Choice has been there for thousands of families every step of the way to take a lice disaster and turn you into a lice master!