Pediculosis of the scalp is not serious as such, but this disease is very contagious. If only one person is affected, an entire class, a group of children on vacation or a family can suffer a head lice infestation. Head lice are not easy to treat, so if you can make preventing head lice your priority, this will enable you to avoid many troubles.
If you want to know how to prevent head lice, you need to understand how they spread and who has the highest probability to catch it. Here are some important points:
- If you only catch a couple of head lice or a single fertilized female louse you can still very quickly be infested (this is a matter of a few days or one week) because the louse has exceptional reproduction capacities.
The male can fertilize 18 females in a row without having a rest and females mate several times during their adult life that can vary from ten to forty days. They lay from 4 to 10 eggs or nits daily for about 3 to 5 weeks, which means a total of 100 to 300 eggs or nits.
→ This is why preventing head lice means avoiding to catch even one single louse.
- Contamination between people occurs by direct contact between someone who has lice and a healthy subject. Indirect transmission through a hat or a scarf is possible but much rarer and actually very controversial. Indeed, the head louse rarely leaves the head of its host and if it does it is only to feed on another head. As far as transmission through water is concerned, it has never been demonstrated.
→ To prevent head lice effectively, you’ll want to avoid head-to-head contacts and you’ll be safe. And you don’t need to clean your house.
- Head lice infestation will rarely occur among adults but is very common among children, from all ethnic origins and socioeconomic backgrounds. Head lice can infest anyone, regardless of his background or personal hygiene, as long as there was a direct contact with a subject affected by lice.
→ Head lice prevention has to be focused on your kids.
- The main risk factor of an infestation is the coexistence of a large number of people in a confined space, which is the case in all communities, schools, etc. Remember that direct head-to-head contact, even brief, is enough for lice to move from one person to another.
→ Preventing head lice means avoiding groups where there is already a case of head lice. You’ll still want to send your kids to school but in this case the most important thing to do is avoid head-to-head contacts at all costs.
- Girls catch lice more often than boys, not because they have long hair (this is a myth, deeply rooted but nonetheless a myth) but because their games involve closer head-to-head contacts: girls whisper, tell secrets, exchange hair accessories, and so on. Their long hair makes it more difficult to treat head lice because this does not facilitate combing and removing nits, but it is not a factor of contamination.
→ Preventing head lice for girls means, just like anybody else, avoiding head-to-head contacts. Then, you can still tie their hair with hair bands as an additional precaution.
The ease of transmission of head lice can account for repeated infestations that lead to the discouragement of some parents. But there are some techniques that allow preventing head lice infestations.
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