What are head lice?
Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are parasites that can be found on the heads of people. Pediculosis is the term for an infection with head lice. (The head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis, is different from the pubic louse (Pthirus pubis), which causes pubic hair infections, and the body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis).
How common is head lice infestation?
Head lice infestation is very common, and it has been around since ancient times. While the exact frequency of infections is unknown, estimates range from 6-12 million cases annually.
Who is at risk for getting head lice?
Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who already has head lice, or even their contaminated clothing and other belongings, is at risk for acquiring head lice. So it is easy to transmit head lice from one person to another. Preschool and elementary-school children (3-11 years of age) and their families are infected most often. Girls contract head lice more often than boys, and women contract more head lice than men, especially those who keep hair.
How can you constant head lice
Contact with an already infested person (Personal contact is common during play, school, or sports activities, and at school, home, slumber parties, or camp.)
Wearing infested clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons
Using infested combs, brushes, or towels
Lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or stuffed animal that has recently been in contact with a person with lice (though there is evidence that the risk is very low if more than 48 hours has passed since the exposure)
What do head lice look like? What is the life cycle of head lice?
There are three forms of lice, namely the nit, the nymph, and the adult louse.
Nit: Nits are lice eggs. Nits are hard to see and are often confused with dandruff or hair-spray droplets. Nits are found firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval shaped, 2-3 mm in length and usually yellow to white in color. Nits take about a week to hatch.
Nymph: The nit hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult head louse but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about seven days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on human blood.
Adult: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. In people with dark hair, the adult louse looks darker. Females lay nits; they are usually larger than males. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head. To live, adult lice need to feed on human blood. If the louse falls off a person, it dies within two days.
Life cycle: The nits hatch into nymphs, which become full grown lice. In order to produce more nits, the adult lice must mate.
Where are head lice most commonly found?
Head lice are most frequently located on the scalp behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck. Head lice hold on to hair with hook-like claws that are found at the end of each of their six legs. Head lice are rarely found on the body, eyelashes, or eyebrows.
The signs and symptoms are
a tickling feeling of something moving in the hair;
itching (caused by the an allergic reaction to the bites);
sores on the head (caused by scratching);these sores on the head can sometimes become infected;
How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
Head lice can be detected by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs, or adults. Locating a nymph or adult may be difficult; there are usually only a few of them, and they can move quickly from searching fingers. However, the presence of nits close to the scalp confirms that a person is infested. If the nits are located more than ¼ inch from the scalp, the infestation is probably an old one. If you are not sure whether or not a person has head lice, the diagnosis should be made by a health care professional, school nurse, or a professional from the local health department or agricultural extension service. The nits of head lice are easily visible with a microscope. Dr. Ioffe-Uspensky performed a study that showed that using a louse comb was better than visual inspection alone when screening for lice infestations.
For effective elimination of head lice, the infested individual, family members that are also infested, and the home must all be treated. It is important to remember that treatment should only be started if there are clearly live lice identified. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics in a recent clinical report, “The ideal treatment of lice should be safe, free of toxic chemicals, readily available without a prescription, easy to use, effective and inexpensive.”
Treatment of the individual and the infested family members
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications are used to treat the affected people and their families. Follow these treatment steps:
Remove all clothing.
Apply lice-killing medicine, also called pediculicide, according to the label instructions. If a child has extra-long hair, one may need to use a second bottle. Warning: Do not use a cream rinse or combination shampoo/conditioner before using lice medicine. Do not rewash hair for one to two days after treatment.
Have the infested person put on clean clothing after treatment.
If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment but are moving more slowly than before, do not retreat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb (lice comb). The medicine sometimes takes longer to kill the lice.
If no dead lice are found and lice seem as active as before eight to 12 hours after treatment, the medicine may not be working. See a health care professional for a different medication and follow their treatment instructions.
Nit (head lice egg) combs, often found in lice medicine packages, should be used to remove nits and lice from the hair shaft. Many flea combs made for cats and dogs are also effective.
After the initial treatment, check, comb, and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days.
Retreat in seven to 10 days.
Check all treated people for two to three weeks until you are sure all lice and nits are gone.
Machine wash all clothing and bed linens, dry laundry using hot cycle, and vacuum floors and furniture for house treatment of head lice.
Then the local method
Locally made confor with a mixture of kerosene, apply on the hair and cover the hair with a shower cap. Rinse immediately if you feel uncomfortable.
Head Lice Symptoms
Although itching may be a sign of a lice infestation, most often individuals are asymptomatic. Keep in mind that although the only reliable sign of an infestation is the presence of a live louse or nymph (juvenile louse), the presence of nits may be a sign that there is or has been an active infestation.
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