Head Lice

She’s got cooties! I think I’ve said that a few times in the past as a child, but head lice can be a serious North Port and Sarasota Pest now that its time to send the kids back to school. Head Lice are ectoparasites, which mean they live outside the body. Lice are similar to fleas in many ways. They have the same life-cycle and are also flattened in shape, although they have horizontal flattening instead of vertical like fleas. There are two types of Head Lice, bloodsucking and those who chew on hair and skin. Unlike fleas, they will stay embedded on the host for their entire lives. Also called “nits” and “Cooties”, these parasites can be a huge annoyance for children causing psoriasis like itching conditions and loss of sleep due to discomfort.

How do you identify a problem with Lice? At the first signs of infestation, your child will be itching quite a bit. Head Lice like to hang out behind the ears and along the nape of the neck. They are mostly white in color and have darker markings along their sides. They glue their eggs to the roots of hair follicles for close proximity to feeding and other reproducing lice. They commonly live up to a month, and prefer to lay their eggs during times of inactivity like when your child is sleeping. Adult Head Lice can lay up to 150 eggs during their short lifetime. They also will feed numerous times per day (like my growing teenagers).

Spreading Head Lice happens when children share hats, sports helmets, combs, or by direct head to head contact. Although more rare, they can also be transmitted by coming into contact with infested furniture or bedding. The glue that bonds their eggs is super strong and eggs may remain present after killed for quite a long time.

Treatment for Head Lice is relatively simple. Lice will die within two days when they are removed from their host. Rarely is a pest control treatment needed on infested areas if they are left alone for a couple days without human contact. There are pest control products that can be used to treat infested surfaces, but this should be a last resort due to the fragility of the insects and the quick mortality when separated from their human. The first step in killing Lice is to use a special comb to remove as many lice and eggs as possible. This should be repeated daily for at least two weeks. After the first combing, treat the child’s hair with a insecticidal shampoo that is labeled for control of Head Lice. Never use any product directly on a human unless the label says it is safe to do so. Children and small animals tend to be more sensitive to pesticides, so use extreme caution when choosing the Shampoo. These are available at most drug stores but may require a prescription for stronger amounts of active ingredient. Frequently, a second shampoo application is recommended after ten days to kill any remaining lice that may have hatched since the original treatment (which would be washed away by that point). Treatment of infested bedding can be accomplished with thorough washing of linens and the use of high heat while laundering or by simply not occupying those areas for at least 48 hours. You should also contact anyone your child has come into contact with in the past thirty days to warn them an infestation may be present. Most times the signs of being infested may not appear until after a week or two and they can be spread before you may realize it’s happening.

You can rid your children of Head Lice safely by following all shampoo label directions and the advice above. If you need the help or advice of a professional, contact your pediatrician or call Johnny Bugs at (941) 405-3080. We also provide other Sarasota Pest Control services and would love to keep your home bug free!