Does Lice Make Your Head Itch?
You are settling in with your kids to watch TV for the evening when all of a sudden you notice your younger daughter is scratching her hair. It's probably nothing, right? You go back to watching TV. Wait, is your older daughter also scratching her head? Two itchy scalps...probably not good. You don't want to panic, however, you know how prevalent those dreaded head lice are...does lice itch?
Carefully, slowly, nonchalantly you get up and look at your daughters as close as you dare to go. Truthfully you tell yourself you really can't see anything. It's time to confess to your daughters what you suspect and drag out a lamp so that you can actually see what you were doing. Ughhh, you see things in the hair; are those lice eggs? Do lice eggs itch? Or are there actual bugs in the hair? You can't find any, but...are they hiding?
This scenario occurs every day in families across the country. It can be frustrating for parents to identify lice eggs (aka nits) or find bugs that scoot from the light. Why is it so difficult to find the nits? There are several reasons:
- Nits are translucent and they camouflage in the hair;
- Nits are often mistaken for debris that may be in the hair, such as hair casts, DEC plugs, or dandruff;
- Nits are very small and unless you have good eyesight, good magnification, and know what you are looking for, it is easy to miss them.
Because lice and nits are hard to spot, the first symptom most parents notice is the scratching.
Why Do Lice Itch?
Parents always get confused when we come over and reveal with our special combing checks that the lice have spread to more family members, who aren’t yet showing any lice itching. Why does lice make your head itch sometimes and not others?
Lice itch much the same way other bug bites itch...because they bite the skin to suck the blood, and some people are allergic to the bites, just like some people itch with mosquito bites whereas others don’t really. But on top of that, the tiny lice moving through the hair may tickle the skin and cause a crawling feeling that can feel itchy. In our experience, even just thinking about head lice causes many people to feel instantly itchy. Lice eggs (nits) themselves don’t itch at all, since they are attached to the hair (not the skin), don’t move (yet), don’t bite (yet) and don’t contain any known irritants to cause itching.
What’s even more important to realize is that this means some people never itch when they get lice, because they aren’t allergic to the bites. It is not unheard of for us to find advanced cases of lice on people who had no idea they have had lice for weeks or even months! That’s why we always recommend that everyone in the household get checked while we are there treating those whom you know about, just in case! Checking the whole family by default is one of the reasons why our success rate is the highest in the industry.
How To Treat Lice Bites
Itching from lice bites is caused by the body’s response to the saliva from the bite. Even after all the lice have been removed, there is no quick answer to how to get rid of lice bites. If you have itching, it is important to refrain from scratching to avoid a skin infection. Some find relief from itching with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
Your Bites Are Healing
You may experience itching from a resolved case of head lice either from the bite or from a wound caused by scratching a bite. As your wounds from lice bites heal, the potential for itching remains, but the itchiness usually resolves in a day or so. The itching can be severe for some people, however, especially if the head lice infestation was severe, so these people seek relief from the itching that results. We cannot provide medical advice but there are some practical things you may do to be more comfortable as your scalp heals from bites and sores caused by itching and other lice bites on neck treatment.
- Keep the area clean
- Apply a cold compress
- Apply an anti-itch cream
- If itching is severe, contact your physician
Your Scalp May Be Dry
Another cause of itching after lice treatments is dry scalp. Any time you do anything out of the ordinary to your hair, your scalp may become irritated. This could be the case especially if you have been battling lice for a while, using different over-the-counter pesticide treatments, prescription pesticide treatments from a physician, other home remedies that may have failed, and essential oils that may be used to prevent head lice. Some tend to wash their hair more frequently when they have lice, thinking that will help resolve this issue - which is not the case. All of these can dry out the scalp causing itching and irritation that will resolve itself once the treatments cease. In the meantime here are some practical tips:
- Go back to your normal hair care routine
- Consider adding a dandruff shampoo
- Apply some oil to your hair before your shower
Sometimes itching is what we call “in the head, not on the head.” Some who have had lice, after treatment still feels crawling. Some people are itchy just by thinking about the concept of having head lice. They become hypersensitive to everything that is going on on their heads. This can actually sometimes cause severe itching. For more information see our blog: “Do I Have Lice Or Am I Just Paranoid?” To avoid ever having to deal with head lice, use a repellent product, such as our Mint Repellent spray, shampoo, and conditioner.
How Long Do Lice Bites Itch After Treatment?
While parents are relieved after we treat their kids because they don’t have to worry about lice any more, the kids are often more concerned about relief from their annoying symptoms, wondering how long do lice bites itch after treatment? Just like other bug bites, the amount and duration of itching is different for everyone, and may depend on how allergic the person is to lice bites and how many they had, and how violently they scratched at the bites with their nails.
Itching after lice treatment can also be caused by a reaction to treatment chemicals. The pesticides in lice shampoo can have side effects, including scalp irritation. Some people get flaky scalps or even have allergic reactions to various types of lice treatment, whether chemical or home remedies (for example, young kids can develop sudden allergies to tea tree oil).
Fortunately, our treatment uses gently soothing olive oil instead of harsh chemicals. Most kids experience some relief immediately upon having the oil put on their scalps, as it immobilizes the crawlers and provides some relief from irritation to the bites.
Selina in Jacksonville called us as soon as she saw that her kids had itchy heads. What she told us is worth repeating, "I saw my kids scratching and I just knew that they had lice because so many kids in their classes had it. While I wasn't happy about it, I considered myself lucky because we were able to catch it early. Some of my friends' kids had it and never had the itchy scalp; in fact, they had no symptoms at all. By the time their kids were diagnosed they had really bad cases. My kids were mild and you folks at LiceDoctors were able to clean us up in under two hours. The whole experience was easy."
Remember, while no one is happy to see their kids scratching itchy scalps, look at it as a sign to take heed and diagnose it or call us to diagnose whether there are lice in the hair or not. A head lice infestation will not go away by itself and will only get worse if untreated. LiceDoctors will come and take the burden off of you day or night. The sooner you call us, the sooner that annoying itching will be finally over. Call us at the first sign of lice to discuss your options: 800-224-2537.