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How are Head lice diagnosed?

Head lice can be diagnosed at home, without the need of a dermatologist, by following the steps below:

For diagnosis at home, you will need two items:

  • A bright light, and
  • A fine-tooth comb or lice comb.

How to find head lice:

  • Pour some water to wet the hair of the affected person. The water causes the hair to become sticky and prevent the lice from crawling away, and it also can make it easier to see the lice.
  • Find a good source of bright light and get the affected person to sit still under the light.
  • Use the fine comb to part the hair into sections. Begin at the scalp, comb outward through the hair, combing each section first before the next.
  • Using the light, look closely for adult lice and their eggs. These eggs are also called nits and attach without moving to the hair, and so are easier to be seen than the adult lice.
  • Comb slowly through the hair, take time to inspect the hair behind the ears and the hair around the bottom of the neck. Both areas are common with lice and nits.

How will you know a person has adult lice or nits?

You will find the following:

  • Presence of adult lice: These lice are light-brown objects and bear a resemblance to sesame seeds. They are found on the scalp and between the hair and crawl really fast.
  • Very small eggs: These can be yellow, brown, or tan. They are tiny objects that look like seeds and are found glued to individual hairs close to the scalp. These seed-like objects become clear once an egg is hatched, and its shell falls off.

Sometimes, even when looking closely, you may see various small objects such as sand, dirt, lint, or dandruff, and mistake these for head lice. But the difference is that all of those objects mentioned can be combed out easily from the hair. Nits, on the other hand, seem stuck in place to the hair, and are not so easily removed.

You can call 020 71833648 for more information and recommendations for at-home treatment.

How can you treat head lice at home?

Various products are easily purchasable without a dermatologist’s prescription at a local drug store or a grocery store. They can be used to get rid of head lice and their nits. Below, we give some tips from dermatologists London on what ways you can properly use these products:

First treatment:

  • Carefully read the instructions: If using a lice shampoo, lather the shampoo into your hair, and leave it untouched for minutes before rinsing with water.
  • To the head of a fully dressed person, gently rub the product. Apply to all areas, and using a spray hose, rinse the product out. You can set the person’s head under running water from a tap in the absence of a spray hose. You must limit what amount of the skin is touched by these products, so do not use it while taking a shower or bath.
  • Combining products for the treatment of head lice could be harmful, so use only one product, unless directed otherwise by a dermatologist.
  • Use only the amount as directed on the product. Any more than is instructed could be harmful.
  • Use a lice comb, especially one that comes along with the shampoo. Lice combs have less space between their teeth, and so are much more suitable for removing lice and their nits from the hair.
  • Wait for 8 to 12 hours after treatment, and inspect the hair. If the lice are almost still and less active than before, then the treatment could be working. If the opposite, don’t use again as the item may not be working. Meet a dermatologist to recommend a different medication.

The next day: If you suspect the medicine is working, you can continue on the following:

  • Wait at least 48 hours before washing your hair. This allows time for the product to work.
  • Comb your hair with a lice comb at least once every day. Keep this up for 2 to 3 weeks to get rid of all the lice.

7 to 9 days after the first treatment:

  • Treat the hair again. Instructions for this usually are given on the product package. This retreatment is important with the use of any product that can be purchased at a local store without a prescription.
  • This second treatment should be done 7 to 9 days after the first treatment and is necessary to kill all newly-hatched lice that survived the first treatment. Retreatment is required for all approved treatment, as no first treatment is capable of killing all the eggs present.
  • Comb through the hair using a lice comb after application of the second treatment.
  • Let the product remain on your hair before you rinse it off
  • Take a lice comb through the treated hair at least once a day, and continue for two weeks.

If you seek a dermatologist’s recommendations regarding all the above products and treatment, you can contact Clear Skin London on 020 71833648. Book an appointment to visit our Dermatology Clinic; we offer some of the best private health services in skin and scalp treatment in London.

How to improve home treatment for head lice

  • Always use a lice comb during treatment, as this makes the treatment more effective in eradicating lice and their nits from the head. Lice combs also are necessary for fulfilling school policies that require a child to be nit free before that child is returned to school.
  • Shave the scalp bald. This is an alternative to treating the scalp with a product
  • Treat every person in the family for head lice, including friends and close acquaintances if possible. It is the advice of dermatologists London that before any treatment, you check each person for the presence of head lice, usually for 10 to 15 days, as the products could be harmful if used in the treatment of a person who does not have head lice.

When should you see a dermatologist about head lice?

It is important you visit a dermatologist as soon as you notice that there is no improvement in the reduction of the head lice in spite of the home treatment.  A dermatologist could advise the purchase of a suitable prescription medication that could be purchased without the need of a prescription. You can visit the Clear Skin London clinic. Call 020 71833648 to book an appointment or get more information regarding Head lice.

Below are approved medications used in the treatment of head lice.

Benzyl alcohol lotion: This medication is applied only to dry hair, and is approved for the treatment of head lice in persons no less than six months of age.  Here is what to know on the use of this medication:

  • Soak the hair and scalp thoroughly with the lotion, and wait after 10 minutes, before rinsing off the medicine. Benzyl alcohol fails to kill the eggs, although it is effective in killing off the lice. So our dermatologists London recommend the treatment be repeated in 7 days.
  • Ensure your head is continuously combed for nits while using the medicine.
  • This medicine is suitable for the treatment of head lice in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • One common side effect of this medication is the development of irritated skin.

Ivermectin lotion:

  • This treatment is approved only for people no younger than 6 months of age
  • Ivermectin is greatly convenient, as it treats the head lice in a single use, and without the need for continuous combing.
  • All side effects of this medication are temporary and include itchy skin, eye irritation in a situation where the medicine mistakenly enters into the eye, and a burning sensation on the skin.

Malathion lotion:

  • This treatment is approved only for people no younger than 6 months of age
  • This treatment is unique, as it paralyses the lice, and kills both adult lice and their eggs. Malathion can be quite severe, so ensure you take the following precautions:
  • Ensure the medicine does come in contact with the eyes
  • In cases where the medicine accidentally gets into the eyes, wash the eyes at once with lots of water. Do this for several minutes, and ensure all the treatment is washed off.
  • This medicine is extremely flammable, so keep it away from any flame or flammable equipment, including stoves and fireplaces. Make sure you stay away from any person that is smoking while making use of this medicine. Unlit lighters and camp stoves are extremely dangerous around Malathion, and so should be moved to another room when using Malathion. If using the product outdoors, ensure no fire is burning in your surroundings.
  • Ensure every electrical appliance that could produce any heat is turned off when using this product. Items such as a blow dryer, iron, curling iron, or space heater could cause a fire if used in the same room with Malathion.
  • All side effects are temporary. There could be some irritation or dry hair.
  • Malathion is safe and well adequate in the treatment of head lice.

Spinosad suspension:

  • This medicine is approved only for people no younger than 6 months of age
  • Treatment with Spinosad is safe when used as instructed by a dermatologist.
  • This treatment is effective in the treatment of head lice
  • Medicine needs to apply only once in most common cases, and without the need for combing.
  • Routinely check scalp every 7 days from the date of treatment. Consult a dermatologist London if you discover any presence of crawling lice
  • Wash all clothing, including clothing, towels, and sheets suspected of being infested with head lice. Wash every fabric in hot water.
  • This medicine commonly is prescribed by dermatologists if other treatments fail, or is not suitable for the treatment of the head lice.

Lindane shampoo:

  • This medicine is approved in the treatment of head lice by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and commonly prescribed by dermatologists London in conditions where other treatments fail to work
  • Lindane shampoo is known to be toxic if abused or misused, so adhere strictly to the directions of a dermatologist when using this treatment.

What ways can you treat your home for head lice?

To prevent the occurrence of an infestation, ensure you clean and wash the following items:

  • All brushes and combs. Using hot water, preferably at 130 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. Soak all infested combs and brushes for 10 minutes.
  • Sheets, pillowcases, clothes, blankets, and towels. Gather all items you believe touched the head of a person with head lice in any time during the past two days, and wash in a washing machine, or a basin or tub with hot water.
  • Use a hot dryer, preferably raised to the hottest setting available, in drying all machine-washed items — dry all items for no less than 10 minutes.
  • For all items that can’t be machine-washed, such as stuffed animals and pillows, gather all into a hot dryer, with its setting tuned to the hottest, and let it run for 20 to 30 minutes at the least.

Personal items worn on the head such as hair accessories, helmets and headphones, bear the risk of also being infested if they come in contact with a person with head lice any time in the last two days. In such occasions, you can kill the lice by doing any of the following:

  • Seal all infested objects in plastic bags.
  • Keep the plastic bags refrigerated overnight, or keep sealed for no less than two weeks. This time is the duration recommended by dermatologists needed for the death of adult lice and newly hatched lice. The use of this treatment is necessary for situations where the use of hot water and dryer heat are unable to be practised.
  • Vacuum all furniture, including all carpets and every floor. Studies estimate that a person loses between 50 to 100 hairs in a single day, and vacuuming must be done thoroughly to ensure all hair shed by a person with head lice is picked off the surface of furniture, carpet or floor.

What is the outcome of the treatment of head lice?

With the application of a proper treatment, it is entirely possible to get rid of all head lice. Two treatments, the first spaced 7 to 9 days from the first usually are required for complete treatment of head lice.

If after a few weeks since the start of treatments and you find the head lice are still present, it is important you make an appointment then to see a dermatologist. If head lice return after treatment, you might need a dermatologist’s help in getting rid of the lice.

Some tips for managing head lice

  • Children are the most likely to contract head lice, so ensure your child is taught the importance of not sharing personal hair items such as brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, helmets, scarves, towels. Earbuds also carry head lice, and can potentially spread them onto another person.
  • Restrict your child (or children) from touching any item that is frequently used by a person with head lice; these include chairs, pillows, rugs, and beds also

What can you do if your child’s school reports a head lice infestation?

  • Properly inspect the hair of your child.
  • Inspect every household item that bears the possible risk of being infested by adult lice and their nits, examples being towels, rugs, pillows and all beddings.
  • Check every cloth worn by your child in the past two days for signs of any lice and their eggs.
  • Remind your child continuously of the importance of not sharing any item or object that touches or could come in contact with the head.
  • Instruct your child to keep away from all head-to-head contact with other kids at the school until the school is clear of the infestation.

Proper treatment can ensure that head lice are cleared from the head and scalp. It is important you make an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as the early signs appear to check the discomfort from itching and other symptoms.

At Clear Skin, our team of Dermatologists Harley Street London will provide you with some of the best skincare services in London. Call 020 71833648 to book an appointment.

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