Parents tell us every day that their child just caught head lice. We have to give them the bad news: even though they just now found the problem in their child's hair, the problem has probably been there for weeks.
Most people with head lice don't experience symptoms for the first 3 weeks, and some people never get itching! When it takes several weeks on average to even realize there are head lice infestations in the family, it's possible to have a bad case of lice before you even notice it.
What Is a Mild Lice Infestation?
A mild case of lice generally means that it was discovered early, before symptoms start. When there are just 1 or 2 bugs active the hair who have laid several nits, but those nits haven't really begun to hatch yet, that is a mild case. Each female louse lays 6-10 eggs per day, and lives about 30 days. Each egg takes about 10 days to hatch.
Because this process is ongoing, it can be hard to know how to calculate how long you have had lice. Mild cases are often discovered because of a check during an outbreak.
How to Treat Mild Lice Infestation?
Treating mild infestations early makes treatment faster and easier. With the right tools, skills, techniques, and planning, it is very possible to treat early cases on your own.
- Focus on the hair, not the belongings/environment.
- There are several home remedies for lice, with varying degrees of efficacy.
- ~Olive oil is effective at smothering adult lice.
- ~Mayonnaise is effective, but very unpleasant.
- ~Tea tree oil is a common suggestion, but actually works more as a repellant, and may cause allergic reactions.
- Wet combing is necessary to remove any lice eggs, regardless of how you kill the adult lice.
- ~Wet hair with oil or conditioner.
- ~A quality lice comb will make the wet combing process much easier.
- ~Section hair and comb each section down hair shafts from root to tip, from the top, bottom, left and right.
- ~Wipe comb on a paper towel after each swipe.
- ~Re-examine clean hair in bright light for remaining lice eggs afterward.
- ~Repeat every few days for at least 2 weeks to maintain control! Missing just a few nits means the whole case of head lice may start over.
Even if a case is mild, many parents feel more at-ease having lice experts verify that it is gone and that the head lice hasn't spread to other people.
What Is a Severe Lice Infestation?
What is considered a bad lice infestation? A person does not "catch" several adult lice from someone else. Multiple adult lice indicate the first generation has hatched, which takes place day 7-10 after exposure. By day 12-14, the nymphs have grown up and each female louse has started laying several nits, and become very contagious.
You can see how it's possible to develop a severe head lice infestation quickly. Yet many parents don't notice the issue until there is an extreme case of lice. How many lice is a bad infestation, and how do you determine a mild vs severe lice infestation? By the time the 3rd generation hatches, the infestation is severe.
How to Treat Severe Lice Infestation?
Treating bad infestations is more challenging than treating an early infestation. Yet it's often unavoidable since most parents won't notice early cases.
By the time there is a severe or extreme lice infestation, most parents seek professional lice treatment. There are many professional treatment methods, but any method that is effective will include the following.
- Wet combing of all hair shafts.
- Bright light and magnifying lenses to ensure all eggs are removed from hair.
- Aftercare to prevent a recurrence.
- Checking all others in the household for early infestations.
Can lice go away on its own? Almost every untreated mild case progresses to a severe lice infection. Since advanced head lice infestations are highly contagious and compound quickly, it is especially important to get bad infestations under control immediately.
The Bottom Line
It is imperative to treat all head lice infestations as quickly as possible. Not everyone will experience symptoms, so examine each child's hair regardless of itching. If you get overwhelmed, it's better to ask for help than to continue to suffer with multiple infestations that just get harder to cure. Book an appointment with LiceDoctors to make sure the whole family is head lice-free for good, guaranteed.