With winter comes dryer air and colder temperatures. A lot of people suffer from irritated, dry skin during this time of year. The scalp is especially prone to this. When a scalp becomes itchy and uncomfortable many people just believe they are dealing with a case of dandruff. In certain cases, however, head lice can be mistaken for dandruff. It is important to rule out head lice so that you can properly treat your dandruff symptoms or vice versa.
How can I tell the difference between dandruff and head lice?
What They Look Like:
Dandruff is white, flaky pieces of skin that become so dry they break off of the scalp. These pieces of dead skin fall in chunks that create white flakes usually present on the shoulders, neck or back of the person infected. Dandruff is easily visible and usually becomes much worse when the scalp is scratched or rubbed up with tips of fingers. If you look onto the scalp you will easily see patches of dry areas that are flaking and white in color.
Head lice are not as easily visible to the human eye. An adult louse is the size of a sesame seed and avoids direct light by burrowing into the hair or scalp. Usually, the first noticeable symptoms of head lice would be nits or lice eggs. These are transparent in color until they hatch when they become white. Female lice attach their eggs to a single hair strand very near the scalp to keep it warm and incubated by its human host. The egg is attached with a secretion from the mother that cements it to the hair strand, meaning it will not easily flake off as a piece of dandruff would. A single adult louse can lay up to ten eggs per day during her life. If you are looking for nits, search particularly well around the crown of the head, behind the ears and near the nape of the neck.
What Symptoms Are Present for Dandruff Vs. Head Lice?
Regular dandruff is the result of overactive skin reproduction. As a person loses skin cells the body regrows them every four weeks. Often times the body starts producing skin cells at a much more accelerated rate, leaving excessive skin cells that die off and peel off the skin. These mounds of flaked skin are clearly visible and could be an indication you need to visit the Dermatologist or health care professional. Dry, itchy and flaky skin can leave someone with painful, irritated spots on their head. A severe case may be warning signs of a more serious condition such as eczema or psoriasis. Extreme cases leave sufferers with cracked, blotchy skin and painful, bleeding sore on their heads. Another cause for dandruff is the overuse or misuse of hair products. Make sure to read the labels and use beauty products as directed.
The tricky thing about head lice is that a single louse can invade a person’s scalp and start laying eggs. By the time these eggs hatch, start to feed and begin laying their own eggs, several weeks can pass by. This means that signs and visible symptoms of head lice take up to 4-6 weeks to manifest sometimes after the initial infection. The average head has 15-30 active adult head lice once the problem is really noticed. By this time, you will see a large number of nits on the head, and red bumps and irritations from biting the scalp for food. Using a nitpicking comb, available at Lice Clinics of Texas, is an important tool to help you carefully sift out possible nits or head lice, rinse them off into a bowl of water, and clearly be able to see what you are dealing with.
What Treatment Options Are Recommended for Dandruff & Head Lice?
Dandruff is easily treated with over the counter medicated shampoos. Nearly half of adults will experience dandruff at some point in their life. It is a common problem that you can usually get a handle on after a few weeks of consistent treatment. Conditioning the scalp to provide moisture is also recommended. Protect your head from the elements with proper coats and headgear.
Head Lice is easily eliminated. Depending on your budget and time needs, our trained personnel will walk you through the best options for your specific situation.