Head lice, Pediculus Capitis
Every year, at the start of the school year (and not only for that matter!), lice infestations become a real nightmare for parents and teachers. Discover in this file a set of answers and natural products that will allow you to best fight against this insect.
Lice are hematophagous insects (feeding on blood), responsible for frequent and contagious parasitic diseases called pediculosis.
There are three types of lice responsible for phtiriasis (another name given to human pediculosis) :
- Pediculus humanus corporis
- Phtirius pubis
- Pediculus humanus capitis
We will mainly focus on the last one that is mainly found on the heads of our toddlers.
Head lice, or Pediculus Capitis, affect 10% to 20% of school children between the ages of 3 and 11. They are tiny insects of 2 to 3 mm, with six hooked legs, which live and cling to the hair.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not fly or jump, but they crawl very quickly. As they breathe through holes that can close and become waterproof, do not expect to drown them by going to the pool !
Lice have a clear preference for children !
Head lice only infect humans.
Transmission is strictly human-to-human, directly or indirectly. So, contrary to some legends, lice are unable to jump from one head to another. They don't fly either. Either the heads are in direct contact, or there is an intermediary: object, combs, brushes, hats, scarves, coats, etc.
Lice can quite attack adults, but they prefer the promiscuity that reigns between children.
How does the louse locate its host to feed ?
Lice locate their hosts using a very specialized recognition system, called chemoreceptors, located on the antennae. These chemoreceptors are sensitive to different parameters :
- Perception of heat
- Infrared radiation
- Day/night vision
- Chemo-olfactory (perception of specific molecules and smells)
Specific data (osmolarity, salinity, chemical composition) confirm to “biting suckers” such as lice that they are indeed sucking blood and that they can therefore feed. The accuracy of sensory perception is related to the number of chemoreceptors. The louse that lives close to its host has few antennal receptors (less than 50, compared to a mosquito or a fly which can have up to 5000). These also serve the needs of sexuality.
Lice can quickly become invasive !
Head lice stay close to the scalp for food, warmth, shelter and moisture. If left untreated, they can live for 3 to 4 weeks. Away from a human host, they can survive for up to three days.
After mating, the adult female can produce 5 or 6 eggs per day, for 30 days, a total of 100 to 200 eggs, called nits.
The egg hatches after nine to ten days and releases a nymph which molts several times until it becomes an adult head louse.
After hatching, the empty shell of the egg remains attached to the hair for several months. It takes on a whitish color and gradually moves away from the root as the hair grows. Empty nits look like dandruff but with the particularity of resisting washing and brushing the hair.
Lice : the puzzle for mothers and researchers
A few years ago, the effectiveness of anti-lice products seemed beyond reproach, so much so that it was difficult to distinguish which was the best.
But times have changed a lot. To cope with anti-lice insecticide products, lice have evolved by modifying their genetic heritage. Numerous studies carried out in various countries show that there are now lice resistant to the two reference products, pyrethrum derivatives and malathion.
Beware of lice : be vigilant !
Be careful, the bite of the louse causes itching and can, when the child scratches with not very clean nails, lead to superinfection.
You will need to do a thorough examination of your child's head :
- Where ? near the scalp, behind the ears, on the back of the neck, on top of the head
- If a "lice are back" sign is posted at school, your child regularly scratches his head (be careful, some people may be asymptomatic and never feel itchy), you see nits (not to be confused with dandruff which does not stick to the hair).
Note : given the size of the nits, it is advisable to use a "special lice" fine comb and good lighting to control the hair.
How to recognize lice ?
To find out if you are dealing with lice, you must start exploring the hair, strand by strand, especially near the root, behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. If you see a white/gray dot, wedge it between your thumb and forefinger. If you can't get it out by sliding it along the hair, it's most likely a louse nit (also called an egg). Alive, they are firmly glued and difficult to remove. And if it really is a slow, then push your exploration a little further because it will certainly not be the only one. Remember to do the same with all family members.
And to avoid confusion with dandruff, here are the tips :
1 - The nit presents resistance when you try to separate it from the hair, unlike a film which falls off on its own when you shake it.
2 - You will not be able to eliminate a nit after a simple hair wash. Unlike dandruff which you can make disappear after a few anti-dandruff shampoos.
3 - When your hair grows (about 1 cm per month), the nit separates from the hair at the same time. The further it gets from the hairline, the more likely it is that it is dead.
4 - Dandruff is very white in color, unlike lice nits which have a more pearly/gray appearance. The shape is also different. The nit has an elongated shape while the film can be of very varied shapes and sizes.
At the people level
1 - Wash the hair of the person concerned with our strong anti-lice treatment lotion with coconut oil
2 - After the shampoo, run a specific fine comb through the still damp hair, to remove the nits. Don't hesitate to pick up our complete ZeroPou kit containing the treatment lotion, a 32-tooth comb and a protective shampoo.
3 - Repeat the treatment two or three days later, to kill the survivors, and eight days later, to kill the hatched nits.
4 - Normally, it is not necessary to treat the whole family but in case of doubt, it is preferable that everyone undergoes the same treatment. As a second step, you can use our ZéroPou shampoo as a preventive measure to prevent lice from re-establishing themselves.
5 - Spray the Zéropou spray directly on the hair as a preventive measure. This product based on lavender essential oil is also an excellent repellent against lice. It will thus prevent the appearance of new nits and lice
6 - Coconut oil can be a real help in the fight against head lice. This vegetable oil has the particularity of forming an occlusive film that suffocates lice and nits. Our advice: Coat the hair mass of the child with coconut oil, then cover with a bathing cap and leave on overnight. The following morning, wash and then use a rinsing vinegar (1/10 of organic cider vinegar in water) to properly remove the nits. Finish by carefully combing your child's hair with a lice comb.
At the level of the environment
Lice, as well as eggs, cannot live very long away from the scalp, so there is no need to engage in excessive cleansing. You have to :
1 - Wash at 50°C at least (the dryer can also be used) or treat (for non-washables) with Ecodoo insecticide all objects likely to have been in contact with lice: clothes, caps, hats, coats, scarves, anorak collars and hoods, hats, cuddly toys, dolls, but also all the bedding, the inside of motorcycle helmets, sofas, car seats.
2 - Rinse your child's hairbrush, comb, barrettes, rubber bands and all hair accessories in hot water, then soak them for five to ten minutes in our ZeroPou strong treatment lotion diluted at 5% . Note: if certain essential oils, such as lavender, can have a repellent effect on lice, they generally have no curative action.
Frequently Asked Questions About Head Lice
A: That's right, lavender is a lice repellent. Just put a few drops at the base of the hair.
A: Lavender essential oil is quite effective against lice. A few drops in the blow at the hairline
A: Many people use lavender essential oil directly on the child's head. Now, I'm not sure if this is effective in diffusion !
A: You should find the answers to your questions on specialist lice sites.
A: According to our information, rather in preventive treatment.
A: Lavender would be effective but only as a preventative. In healing, you must treat.
A: Our product is a household insecticide, and while safe, it is not cosmetically approved. On the other hand, we have a very effective anti-lice treatment lotion based on coconut oil : see here.
- Textile Moth Spray – Aries
- 4J insecticide diluted 5% - All insects
A: The actions of these 2 products are different. One, the textile moth spray, composed of Margosa gives a strong repellent action. Lice will flee treated areas because they hate the smell and taste. The second, 4J 5% insecticide will have a destructive action on all insects affected (including lice). It is made up of pyrethrum which will act as a powerful neurotoxin.