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General Head Lice Information
Head lice (scientific name Pediculus capitis) are parasitic insects that feed on human blood and cause severe itching of the head from their bites. Pediculosis is the general term used for infestation of the body or hair with adult lice, larvae and nits (eggs). Head lice are relatively common and are not a major health hazard. More than 12 million Americans, mostly children and school professionals, are infested with lice each year. Lice is plural for louse. Lice also infect pets and animals, which require the same treatment as head lice found in humans.

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Possible Causes of Head Lice
Head lice are spread by sharing the same bed, clothes (such as hats and scarves), combs and/or brushes with an infested person. The lice survive only 1 or 2 days away from the scalp. Having head lice is not an indication of uncleanliness; all socioeconomic groups are affected.

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Possible Symptoms of Head Lice
Generally, the first symptom of head lice is persistent itching or scratching at the back of the head or around the ears. The lice like to stay close to the head where it is warm and close to their food source, which is human blood. If a child is observed repeatedly scratching his or her head, check the hair shafts and scalp closely for head lice or their nits (eggs). It is important to check for head lice in good daylight or with a very bright light with a magnifying glass. Lice are very difficult to see, especially in light hair.

Head lice are gray or red-brown in color and can vary in size from 2 mm (1/8 inch) in size to just under 5 mm (1/4 inch) long. Their eggs, called nits, are attached directly to the hair at or near the hairline with a powerful glue-like substance and are white or clear in color. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between nits and dry scalp. A quick test is to hold on to the hair shaft and flick it with your finger. If it moves, it is dry scalp. If it does not move, it is most likely a nit (lice Egg). The lice and lice larva may also be moving on the hair shaft, while the eggs (nits) are tightly stuck to one spot until they hatch into larva. It is possible to tell how long the person has had lice by the location of the nits: the closer to the scalp, the fresher the nit.

It can take as long as 2 to 3 weeks or longer for a person to notice the presence of the lice or nits. Unfortunately, after the lice are noticed, they may have already spread to other individuals who have been in contact with the person infected. Others that have been in physical contact with the infected person should be notified to check for lice.

As long as lice or nits are still on a person, in their clothing, or on their linens, they can spread it to others. Lice have an approximate lifespan of 24-25 days. Adult lice each lay up to 150 nits or eggs about a week after they have hatched out. The nits hatch within 7 to 10 days. After hatching, they take 8 to 9 days to become adults at which time the female louse starts laying more eggs and the cycle repeats itself. Although lice cannot live without a host, the nits can survive off of the head.

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Possible Lifestyle Changes for Head Lice
Head lice are extremely contagious. Until live lice and viable nits (eggs) are eradicated, infested persons should be excluded from daycare, school and other social activities to limit the chance of further infestation. This includes moderately isolating the person from physical contact with humans or pets for 24 hours following application of treatment. The lice-infested person or child should wear long hair up, preferably in braids if possible, to avoid spreading the lice to furniture, clothing and others. Head lice can be obtained at any time, with numerous reoccurrence, regardless of age or gender. Lice are more prevalent for children during the early summer months when playing closely together outside.

People should not share clothing, hats, combs or bed sheets with a person infested with lice. Regularly inspect for head lice in elementary school children and in individuals confined to nursing homes or other institutions where crowding may be a problem. Changing your life style can effect your ability to resist lice. Lice, like any parasite, prey on the weak and infirm. Keep your family's immune system healthy by using non-toxic cleaning products and nutritional supplementation.

Special shampoos can help kill lice, but this is not enough to completely rid a child or family of lice infestation. All surroundings must sanitized. Most chemical treatments for killing lice contain potent pesticides and insecticides known as pediculicides. These pediculicides have been known to cause immune suppression, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, circulatory collapse behavioral changes, neuromuscular damage, chronic skin eruptions, liver damage, asthma, respiratory failure, stillbirths, birth defects, cancer and even death.

Unfortunately, many uninformed parents use treatments containing pesticides and tend to use more, leave them on for longer periods of time, or apply them more often, increasing the risk of dangerous side affects.

How to Safely Remove Lice From Head and Home: Step One: Before beginning the process of cleaning the hair of a lice infected individual, make sure you are working in an area that is not carpeted, preferably a bathroom with tile floors. Make sure there are no rugs on the floor, towels or clothes lying around (they make great hiding places for the lice and nits whose homes are being disturbed).

It is best to remove shirts or clothing near the area to be cleaned. If the infected hair is long, it may be beneficial to loosely tie the infected hair up on top of the head either with clips or in a ponytail. The lice will try to run and flee the area to be treated when they sense danger, so cut off their escape routes. They may hide in or behind ears, or on the neck. Dip a cotton swab into a safe cleansing liquid and clean out the ears then paint a ring around the outside of the ears and the hair line around the head.

On a dry head, start at the nape of the neck along the hairline and work around the head saturating the hair as you go moving towards the crown where the hair is tied up. Remove the clips or pony tail and continue to apply the lice cleanser using enough to completely saturate the hair.

Massage the head and work into a lather then comb through hair to ensure coverage (use a metal, regular toothed comb). Wrap or tie the hair back up on top of the head. Every ten minutes or so, massage the hair until 30 to 40 minutes have past.

Reapply the cleanser and work into lather, then comb through hair again (with a metal regular toothed comb). Let sit in hair for another 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Dry hair and comb with nit comb to remove any remaining lice or nits. The "nit picking" should be done in daylight, outside if possible, and never on carpet. Clean all surfaces and floors after working on hair. Use hot water and a non-toxic liquid cleanser. It is imperative that the head be closely examined for remaining nits.

Step Two: Lice are highly contagious and it is extremely important that they are eliminated as fast and completely as possible. Proper sanitation of anything in contact with lice is critical to be sure re-infestation does not occur.

When lice are first detected, it is important to launder, in a separate load, everything with which the infected person has come in contact. We recommend the use of a non-toxic laundry solution for this process. Do NOT dry clean or use chlorine bleach.

Bed clothes (including pillows), jackets (and any jackets that may be hanging close to the infested person's jacket), clothing (everything in the laundry basket), hair combs, brushes, ribbons and doodads, rugs and mats should be laundered in hot water at least 140 degrees. It is best to soak laundry in "pre-soak" or "pre-wash" for at least 30 minutes.

Items that are not washable, such as stuffed animals and sofa pillows, may be placed in an air tight plastic bag and sealed for 30 days, causing the lice to suffocate. Carpets, furniture and car seats should be vacuumed twice. After each vacuuming, the vacuums bags should immediately be removed from the vacuum cleaner, sealed in a plastic bag and disposed of outside of the house. After vacuuming, those same areas should be steam-cleaned, if possible.

Various safe enzyme based products may be used to kill lice. These enzyme based products actually deteriorate the skeleton of the lice, the larva and the nit. Enzyme based solutions may be added to the wash cycle and sprayed directly on the infected areas of the body or clothing.

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In accordance with FDA regulation, we do not make any therapeutic claims for any Dietary Supplements in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

Beneficial Dietary Supplements
Garlic helps fight lice infestation.

Echinacea and Goldenseal help fight secondary infection.

Tea Tree Oil is a strong, natural disinfectant.

REFERENCES: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition, Phyllis Balch, CNC; James F. Balch, M.D.

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