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Contrary to common belief, getting head lice is not a sign of uncleanliness, poor health habits, or inappropriate grooming. Head lice can occur at any age and to either sex.

WHAT ARE HEAD LICE?
Head lice are tiny insects that live in human hair. Lice hatch from small eggs, called nits, which often live at the base of individual hairs on the scalp. Nits are not contagious. A female louse can lay as many as six eggs in a single day. Once the eggs have been laid, it takes only 7-10 days for a nit to hatch into a louse. Head lice feed on blood from the scalp of humans.

WHAT DO LICE LOOK LIKE?
Head lice are clear in color when they are first hatched and then quickly turn a reddish-brown color as they begin to feed. Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed. They have six legs. Claws extend out the bottom of each leg, allowing lice to easily grasp hair.

HOW IS LICE CONTRACTED?
Head lice can be transmitted from person to person in a number of ways. Direct physical contact; borrowing combs or brushes from those afflicted with lice; wearing hats, ribbons scarves, or caps of those with lice; and sharing towels and bedding are all common ways that lice spread from one host to another.

SYMPTOMS
1. Persistent itching on the head
2. Itching on the back of the neck
3. Infected scratch marks on the scalp
4. Scalp rash
5. Nits attached to hairs

HOW TO SPOT LICE
While mature lice are large and dark enough to view with the naked eye, it is still a difficult task. Using the aid of a magnifying glass, fine toothed comb, and strong light, look near the scalp for lice or nits. Lice will be sesame seed-size and dark in color. Nits will be whitish-yellow or clear, will be oval in shape, and will be attached to individual strands of hair. If you suspect nits, try to remove one from the hair shaft. Dandruff will easily pull away from the hair, whereas nits will not.

WHAT LICE CANNOT DO
Lice crawl. They do not jump, hop, or fly. Lice cannot live on pets.

TREATMENT
Traditional. Once head lice is found, it needs to be treated immediately in order to prevent spreading to other members of the family. Traditional, chemical based, over-the-counter preparations are available and provide an easy way to bring the problem under control.

Holistic. This is not medically proven. Several natural oils can also be used in the treatment and prevention of head lice if you're uncertain about using a chemical-based product. Purchase natural alternatives containing a mixture of olive oil and coconut oil, lavender and tea tree oil, or coconut oil and ylang ylang oil . You can also make your own chemical free treatment by following the recipe below.

CHEMICAL FREE TREATMENT
Ingredients:
2 ounces vegetable oil
20 drops tea tree oil
10 drops rosemary oil
10 drops lavender oil
10 drops lemon oil

Directions:
Apply mixture to infected person's head and cover with towel for one hour. Follow with regular shampooing. Repeat this process next day.

HOUSE
Even after all lice has been removed from the hair and scalp, there is still a danger of re-infestation if your living space has not been treated. Lice can survive in home environments for up to four days. Nits can lie dormant for several weeks, then hatch and reinfect the family. All articles of clothing, bedding, towels, and furniture that the sufferer used should be washed in hot water and detergent, machine dried, or dry cleaned. Combs and brushes can be disinfected by soaking in a solution of bleach and hot, soapy water. On items that cannot be washed, use the vacuum cleaner. Vacuum draperies, upholstery, carpeting, mattresses, and any other area where you fear lice and their eggs may have been deposited. Be sure to wrap the vacuum bag in a plastic bag after cleaning and immediately discard.

PREVENTION
If an outbreak of lice occurs, it's important to avoid sharing personal items. Never share:
Combs
Brushes
Hair accessories
Jewelry
Hats
Towels
Clothing
Bedding