Has your scalp been itchy lately? Are you confused about whether you have dandruff or if you have a case of lice on your hands? You’re at the right place if you want to find out.
Both lice and dandruff are common scalp conditions that cause itching and scalp aggravation. It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between dandruff and lice as the flakes caused by dandruff look extremely similar to lice nits. In this article, you will discover the key differences between lice and dandruff, and the best treatments for tackling these scalp issues.
Head lice, or pediculosis, is a parasitic infestation. Head lice are small, wingless, parasitic insects that infest the scalp and feed on blood. When left untreated, the infestation grows rapidly and can cause intense itching and scalp aggravation. The infestation can spread from person to person through close contact. This is why it is predominantly common among children attending preschool and elementary school.
Acquiring head lice is not an indicator of a bad lifestyle of poor hygiene, it simply means that you were in close contact or shared personal belongings with a host.
Dandruff, on the other hand, is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects the scalp. It causes flaking, itching, and scalp aggravation. These flakes are white to yellowish in color and can form on both dry and oily scalps.
The skin cell turnover process in the scalp where the skin continuously replaces itself by pushing aging cells out and replacing them with new cells normally takes up to 30 days. However, when a person has dandruff, this process is pushed into overdrive, causing excessive skin shedding and flaking.
|Pediculosis, Pediculosis Capitis, Head Lice, Nits||Seborrheic Dermatitis, Seborrheic Eczema, Seborrhea, Pityriasis Simplex Capillitii, Cradle Cap, Scurf|
|What It Is||Parasitic infestation||A common scalp condition that can be caused due to various factors.|
|Prevalence||More common in children aged 3-11. Head lice is an extremely common parasitic infestation. However, it tends to spread more rapidly among children attending preschool and elementary school, and also among their close contacts. Head lice infestations are also more common in women than in men.||Extremely common. Dandruff affects almost half of the population regardless of sex, age, or ethnicity.|
|Symptoms||Intense and uncontrollable itching, lice on the scalp, lice eggs or lice nits on the hair shafts.||Itching, flaking skin, dryness, oil and grease buildup, scaly skin on the scalp, redness, white and yellow flakes in hair, and hair loss.|
Head lice usually spread through personal contact; here are some of the ways you can acquire head lice:
Lice crawl from one head to another and the transfer of one female parasite is enough to cause a full-blown infestation within a week or two.
There are many factors that can cause dandruff. They include:
It can be hard to tell the difference between lice and dandruff as they both cause itching and leave white, tan, or brown specks on the scalp, but here’s a guide to determining which of the two issues you have:
While it might be hard to determine whether you have lice just by looking at your hair, examine your hair and scalp in front of a mirror for a couple of minutes. If you notice any movement and find white/tan specks attached to your hair shafts, it is likely that you have lice. If you notice oily or scaly flakes that easily fall from your hair, you have dandruff.
Thoroughly washing your hair will help eliminate flakes. If you have dandruff, the specks will wash away. However, if they remain attached to your hair shafts even after you wash your hair, it is likely that you have a lice infestation.
Sit on the floor or stand in front of a sink in a well-lit area. Untangle your hair and flip it over to the front. Start combing your hair from the nape of your neck towards the front. Examine your comb after every stroke. If there are nits or lice in your hair, they will be caught in your comb.
If your scalp feels extremely dry or oily and you notice flakes coming away when you itch your scalp, you probably have dandruff. Lice crawl on your scalp and their saliva can cause intense irritation. If you feel something crawling on your scalp and you cannot stop scratching, you probably have lice.
The itchiness that results from a lice infestation is often way more intense than the itchiness caused by dandruff. This is because the insects’ saliva irritates the scalp, resulting in uncontrollable itching. If you have an oily scalp and dandruff, your scalp will feel suffocated and your nails will come away with grime under them. A dry scalp produces scaly flakes.
Another person will have a better view of your scalp than you do. Get a family member or a friend to examine your scalp in sections to determine whether you have lice or dandruff. Ask them to focus on the hairlines, nape, and ear area when they are looking.
If none of the methods mentioned above work for you and you are still confused, it is best to consult a professional screener. Get an appointment at your nearest lice treatment salon to get a screening done.
Once you’ve determined the cause of the itching, you can treat the issue yourself at home. Listed below are the different methods to treat head lice and dandruff.
The best way to treat lice is with a medicated shampoo. While it is recommended to consult a professional and get a prescription shampoo, you can also buy a non-prescription shampoo from your local drugstore for this method.
As mentioned on the box.
Repeat the treatment after a week to ensure that you are completely lice free.
There are a number of home remedies and professional products that claim to eliminate dandruff. Most of these remedies and products use tea tree oil as an active ingredient. Here is a simple remedy that can help control dandruff.
2-3 times a week.
If you have lice, ensure that you do not leave it untreated as the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Following these remedies will restore your scalp’s health and help you say goodbye to the itch. Have you ever dealt with either of these issues? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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