Lice in the head are not dangerous, but a very unpleasant problem. This is quite common among children. Moreover, ice tends to spread easily among family members and they require special handling. Without the latter, it is impossible to get rid of the problem. So, let’s find out more details about this problem. And we’ll find out whether shampoo is effective for lice.
What is Lice?
Head lice are small insects that use human blood for living. They have a grey or yellowish color and are a size of a strawberry seed. Lice prefer to live on the scalp, where females can stick eggs to hair and thus continue their reproduction cycle.
How Lice Infestations Start
Lice are not able to fly or jump. That is why they travel between people during direct contact. They crawl slowly but successfully. In addition, different personal items serve as a source for infestation, for example:
- brushes and accessories for hair;
- clothing items, especially scarves and hats;
- towels and bed linen;
These insects are spreading only among people, so household pets will not bring them to the house.
Understanding the Life Cycle of Lice
A newborn louse lives no longer than a month. However, if it is a female, it will produce up to 8 eggs for at least two weeks of living. That is the reason for the swift growth of the population on the scalp and the need to utilize special treatment to get rid of them.
The eggs of lice are called nits. They are tiny, less than 1 mm in size and have an oval shape. The color differs according to the stage of the living cycle. Thus, eggs that are alive are darker and after hatching they become pale and easier to see.
Female lice attach these eggs to the hair near the scalp. The interesting fact is that the gluing substance is so tricky that it is not removed while bathing or hairstyling. Nits need up to 9 days to hatch and turn into nymphs.
Tiny baby lice are called nymphs. Their size is not bigger than 1 mm and they start to feed on the blood from the scalp. They stay immature for 10 days only. During this period, they undergo three stages of molting. Nymphs shade skin after 2, 5 and 10 days of living.
An adult louse has a dark color and a size of 2–3 mm. At this stage of the life cycle, the insects start to reproduce. Females start to lay eggs a few days after mating and continue to do it every day, as they are able to store sperm.
At the same time, these insects have bloodmeals a few times per day and live up to 30 days. They cannot survive far off the scalp, as they need both blood and a comfortable temperature for living.
Head Lice Symptoms
One can see these insects as well as their eggs in the hair. However, due to their small size, this task may not be easy, especially at the very beginning of the infestation. Therefore, the following symptoms help to diagnose the problem.
As lice are constantly biting the skin, it starts to itch all the time. This unpleasant sensation does not disappear and becomes only stronger while the population is growing.
The reaction of the skin may proceed in the form of a rash that is especially visible near the ears and neck.
Sores on the scalp
If the infested person scratches the scalp all the time, this may lead to painful sores and even the accompanying infection.
Over-the-Counter Lice Shampoos
Treatment options include both oral and topical remedies. It is recommended to get the prescription from the doctor, who takes into account the age and condition of each infested person. Some of the shampoos are available without a prescription, so they may serve as the first aid.
Pyrethrins are extracted from the chrysanthemum flowers and are able to kill both live lice and their eggs. The treatment occurs in two stages with 10 days break. The contraindications include allergy and age under 2 years.
Permethrin is a synthetic analog of pyrethrin. Its lotion is FDA-approved and kills only live lice. It should be also used twice. The second treatment is recommended in 9-10 days after the first one. This remedy can be utilized for children older than 2 months.
Among non-chemical products, dimethicone is often utilized. This compound is not able to kill the insects directly but it coats them and prevents their further development. This remedy does not lead to the occurrence of resistant strains. However, it can dehydrate the scalp too.
Prescription Lice Shampoos
More powerful remedies are prescribed by doctors, especially in the case of resistant insects.
This compound has an organophosphate nature and kills all live insects and partly eggs. Two stages of the treatment should occur with a week’s distance between them. It is recommended for age older than 6 years. This compound is flammable and can irritate the skin, so it requires attention and accuracy.
Ivermectin lotion is FDA-approved starting from 6 months of age. It kills adult insects and prevents the development of nymphs. A single application on dry hair is usually effective and enough to get rid of the insects.
This remedy is derived from soil bacteria and kills all forms of lice without a need of nit combing. It is approved for adults and children older than 6 months. Repeat application is needed only if living insects are observed again.
Lice Shampoo Resistance
There is some evidence of the development of resistance and occurrence of super lice strains. However, this can be determined only by a specialist, who will then decide on the treatment.
Does Lice Shampoo Kill Eggs?
This depends on the active ingredients. As was described above, each of them has its own direction of the action and, for example, pyrethrin, ivermectin and spinosad kill all the forms.
Head Lice Treatment Options
A few additional treatment options should be mentioned.
If the utilized shampoo does not kill eggs, then they must be combed out of the hair after each washing.
Stromectol is an oral dosage form that is prescribed as 200 or 400 micrograms/kg in case the topical remedies were inefficient. The second dose can be given in 9-10 days if needed. The contraindications include pregnancy, breastfeeding and children with weight less than 15 kg.
The removal of nits can be also done manually if there are too many of them and they are well observed.
Altogether, it is not a problem to combat head lice successfully. The earlier the issue is detected, the faster and better the treatment will proceed. Therefore, do not neglect the occurrence of head lice but do not get scared at the same time. Modern medicine allows us to cope with lice and forget about their presence in a short time.
Which shampoo is best for removing lice?
One can utilize OTC products that contain pyrethrins or permethrin, as well as some natural ingredients. If the problem persists and the insects seem to be resistant to them, then prescription options like malathion, ivermectin and spinosad are helpful.
Does lice killing shampoo work?
Yes, they work well, as they contain special substances that paralyze the nervous system of insects and are able to kill the lice at all stages of their life cycle.
Does regular shampoo kill lice?
No, a usual shampoo is not killing lice and even is not able to remove nits from the hair. Only special treatment and shampoos help to cope with this problem.
Will lice shampoo kill fleas?
No, such a remedy is not designed for killing fleas and does not have the ability to do this.