Lice are tiny parasitic insects that infest the scalp of their victim in order to suck their blood. They lay eggs, called nits, attached to individual hair strands in order to fully infest the head and then spread to other people. It can be very difficult to spot a lice infestation and sometimes, you will only find nits without being able to spot any lice.
Lice can be extremely difficult to spot. Lice are small, about the size of a sesame seed with six legs. They are also very fast and good at crawling out of danger into the deeper recesses of the hair. For this reason, finding nits but no lice is relatively common. While nits are even tinier than the adult lice, they are not able to move around, giving you a chance to get a good look at them. Nits can not come from nothing so if you spot nits, it is safe to assume that lice are hiding nearby.
When you discover a lice infestation, even if it is just nits but no lice, it is important to move quickly to stop the lice from spreading to other people. The first and most important step, even more important than treatment is to check everyone else in the household or who may have been exposed to the pests. Do a thorough check for nits and lice, and repeat the checks regularly until you are sure the infestation is dealt with.
Once you have a list of people who have lice, make sure that they know not to get too close to anyone else, and to be careful about the clothing, bedding, hats, and other fabrics that come in contact with their hair. Lice can survive for up to 24 hours away from a human scalp, which gives them plenty of opportunity to transfer to a new host and lay their eggs.
To treat lice, simple anti-lice shampoo like you can find at a grocery or drug store will do the trick. Follow the instructions carefully. Using lice shampoo like normal shampoo will not work! Most shampoo meant to treat lice infections needs to sit on the scalp for several minutes before washing away so that it gets a chance to poison the lice. This process often needs to be repeated several times. Do not assume that you are free of lice until you have fully followed the instructions.
Once the lice are gone, it is important to wash bedding, clothing and anything else that may possibly have picked up some lice while the infestation was still present. Just one lice crawling back onto the scalp can start the whole process over again!
Finding lice can be difficult, so make sure to look closely for nits as well as lice. Any evidence of a lice infestation is grounds for going through an anti-lice treatment. Be careful not to let the lice spread or you could have an epidemic on your hands!