How to get rid of nits: What you need to know

If you want to be properly prepared and ready for action when you and your child are under threat from head lice, then you need the facts. However, what is more important is that those facts are correct. There are a lot of false ‘facts’ and myths knocking around the internet which mislead and freak people out unnecessarily. So how can you really get rid of nits?

At The Hairforce we have been professionally clearing nit and head lice infestations of all sizes and severities since 2006 so we know the facts from the fiction. We are always happy to impart our knowledge and help families everywhere deal with this issue successfully.

Will dead nits fall out eventually?

The nits, or eggs, are stubborn things. Nits are firmly stuck to the hair when they are laid. They will stay attached to the hair until they are either pulled out or the hair grows and you cut it. You could either do this using your fingernails or combing them out using a long-toothed metal nit comb. But unfortunately, the nits will not simply fall out.

Combing nits out

The lice themselves take 7 to 11 days to hatch, so after that what is attached to the hair is the empty eggshell or the dead nit. These will stay attached to the hair and as the hair grows you will find them further and further down the hair shaft. They can stay there to the very end.

Do lice eventually die off?

Head lice eventually die. However, that doesn’t mean the infestation dies off. An adult head louse lives for 30 days and then it dies, dehydrates and turns to dust. However, it will leave a full-blown infestation behind.

Adult female lice lay up to 10 eggs a day, so over 30 days that’s 300 eggs from each of them. After the nits hatch, they take 9 to 12 days to become adults. Only at the end of this development they gain their sex and become either an adult female or adult male louse. Within 24 hours of this they will seek to mate and then the female will lay her first eggs.

When the female louse dies 30 days later her eggs will have already matured and hatched and the lice will have grown up and mated, laying their own eggs. Every stage of the development process will be underway in the hair. Some adult lice will have crawled off to lay their eggs on someone else’s hair, so they extend their survival elsewhere.

So no, lice don’t naturally die off. What kills lice off is getting in the hair with a long-toothed metal nit comb and combing all the nits out.

How do you get rid of nits fast?

One of the best, most effective ways of getting rid of nits fast is to nit comb the hair using a long-toothed metal nit comb. You need to put some conditioner on the hair to lubricate the comb through the hair and then comb very thoroughly.

Divide the hair down the middle and then on each side make four sections which you tie up using hairbands. Then work section by section with the nit comb, combing very thoroughly. Comb from the hair’s roots all the way to the end of the hair. You can then wipe the nit comb with some white toilet paper observing what you have extracted. Have a waste-paper bin with a bin liner and put the toilet paper straight into that so everything is contained and no lice can escape.

After you nit comb one section thoroughly tie it back up and move on to the next section. Repeat this thorough combing for all the sections.

An alternative to get rid of nits fast is to take them to the professionals to clear it for you with just two appointments, 7 days apart. Hairforce Clinics clearing process uses a combination of clever technology and forensic hand clearing to get it all out and shut it down. The process is entirely natural without a head lice product treatment in sight.

Head lice treatment

Can head lice live on pillows?

Head lice can and do crawl off an infested head. They don’t all crawl off and the numbers that do depend on how heavy the infestation is. Heavy and very heavy infestations shed more lice as someone lies down on a pillow. Whilst head lice can crawl off onto a pillow, they can’t set up home there.

They need to feed on human blood, so they look to crawl back onto a head. Once they are off, they can live for up to 48 hours without a blood meal. If they do not get the opportunity to crawl back onto a head, they will dehydrate and die.

So if you are clearing your child remember to give them fresh bed linen on the day you nit comb so that if anything is sitting on the pillow you prevent it from crawling back on to the head you have just expertly combed.

Will lice go away if I shave my head?

You won’t necessarily get rid of nits by shaving the person’s head. When head lice lay their eggs, or nits, they lay them very close to the scalp for protection. The hair then grows with the eggs stuck to the hair shaft. You would have to shave the head right down to the root to ensure the freshest, latest eggs have been eliminated.

Often clients who have children with very short hair think that their child won’t have much of an infestation because the hair is short. However, at the Hairforce we clear some very substantial infestations in very short hair. Whatever the hair length, you need to be aware that the freshest eggs originate near the root and all of them need to be removed.

What do lice bites look like?

Some people are very sensitive to head lice. Some even get little red raised bumps, often on the back of the neck or on the scalp as a reaction to their feeding. Sometimes these can become infected with bacteria from itching.

Head lice themselves carry a lot of bacteria, as does their faeces and discarded exoskeletons which they shed as they transition between some growth stages, so it is important to keep the fingernails short and clean to minimise the risk when itching.

Can you feel lice with your fingers?

Head lice are tiny and very fast, so they are tricky to catch. Additionally, their size and lightness makes them difficult to feel with your fingers once you have got one off the nit comb. You can’t even feel them crawling on your scalp. What you feel with head lice is a reaction to their feeding.

If you are allergic to the saliva the head louse injects as they feed, then you will itch. The nits or eggs are different, and you can more easily pull these off the hair shaft with your fingernail. They too are tiny and light so you can’t really feel them either.

How do I check my own hair for lice?

It is much easier to check someone else’s hair for head lice than it is to check your own. This is mainly because you cannot get to the back of the head properly. You need to run a long-toothed metal nit comb through the hair, methodically ensuring that you don’t miss any of the hair.

The alternative is to get the professionals to check it for you – forensically working section by section to see if there are any lice or nits, the eggs. Hairforce Clinics checking process uses a combination of clever technology and forensic examination to see if there is anything in the hair.

The Hairforce at work in a head lice removal clinic

The process is entirely natural without a head lice product treatment in sight. Many mothers use our service to be checked, because who check’s mum’s hair properly?

Do lice bite your face?

Head lice don’t particularly like being out of the hair and off the scalp. It is only when they are surrounded by hair that they feel safe, warm and well protected. If one does crawl out and onto the face, they aren’t going to hang around there because they are vulnerable. Where they do bite or feed, is on the scalp and at the back of the neck at the hairline and where the hair covers the neck.

Can lice be in your bed?

You can find head lice in your bed as they can crawl off during your sleeping hours. It may be that a child is hot at night in bed or they are itching a lot. If a louse is hungry it will crawl back into the hair to feed, if not then the louse can be stranded in or on the bed until the next time someone gets into it.

If you suspect lice or find lice on your child or yourself, make sure you change the bedlinen after nit combing so nothing can crawl back on.

Are head lice more active at night?

Head lice can be very active at night and you will often find that the itching intensifies during the night. This can affect someone’s ability to sleep and create a cycle of insomnia.

Do you need to get rid of nits fast? Find a Hairforce Clinic near you.

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