Symptoms of head lice are hard to ignore, although often times you notice lice symptoms too late to stop an infestation. Learn how to spot the symptoms of head lice and you may be able to act fast enough to minimize the spread throughout your home.
If your scalp is itching excessively and will not stop, even if after a shower or vigorously brushing your hair, you should begin to suspect you have head lice.
Check your scalp for tiny raised red bumps. You might be able to identify individual bites, but most likely you'll find groups of bites that will appear as a rash.
Tiny Eggs on Hair Shafts
One of the biggest tip offs that you have head lice is the discovery of tiny sand-like eggs attached to individual strands of hair, usually very close to the scalp. If you look very closely, the eggs, called nits, will look like miniscule pussy willow buds. This may also look like sand or dandruff in your hair, but you'll find that it does not go away with a brushing of your hair. Instead the little eggs are glued to each hair shaft with a very strong adhesive.
Teensy Wingless Bugs
Most people never see the actual lice, but you may see the tiny, wingless insects crawling in your hair. If you see one, you can be sure there are many.
Getting Rid of Head Lice
If you have the symptoms listed above, you'll want to take charge of the situation immediately. Throw your first load of bedding into the washer on hot and head straight to the drug store for an over-the-counter lice removal shampoo kit. Shampoo as directed and enlist a friend to pick through your hair with the fine-toothed comb included in the kit. Ask her to remove every single nit, even if this takes hours. Keep washing all clothing, bedding, stuffed animals and other washables, making sure the water is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, using ample laundry detergent. Dry bedding and such on high heat. Seal up all unwashable items in plastic bags for two weeks, and vacuum all carpeted surfaces. Treat everyone in the house and watch for any signs of re-infestation.
Not sure what the telltale signs of lice are? Make sure you check out this primer on identifying different types of lice.
Need to know what body lice looks like? If you suspect you might have body lice, but aren't sure, check out this checklist.