You have probably heard about head lice and you thought it would not happen to you or your kids, and now you are looking for reliable head lice information.
Well, actually most people have had lice once or several times during their life, most probably when they were little. Maybe you remember this shampoo with an awful smell, and you remember your mother combing your hair for hours.
And now your kids are in preschool or school, and you’re already familiar with the head lice warnings. And one day the school nurse is breaking it to you, your child has head lice. What is it exactly and how do you handle it?
What is head lice exactly?
Head lice is also called pediculosis capitis, which is head lice scientific name. Here are some clinical characteristics of head lice.
The family of lice has three members:
* Head lice (Pediculus capitis), that are very common at school;
* The body louse (Pediculus corporis), which develops between the skin, clothing and bedding;
* Lice or pubic louse (phtirius inguinalis), which is transmitted by sexual contact.
Head Lice are harmless insects, whose size is approximately 2 to 4 mm (size of a sesame seed) and whose color is often the same as the hair. The lice feed on blood from the scalp and leave red dots. In general, lice have no serious consequences on your health.
Head lice cling to the hair and scalp and the females lay eggs called nits, whose color is very clear when they hatch and whose size is about 1 mm.
A louse, which lives for about 1 month, gives birth to about 10 nits per day (300 to 400 nits in his life) that hatch after 7 to 10 days. Lice like to breed in hot areas like the hair of the head, especially behind the ears.
Lice can survive up to 48 hours out of their environment (hair) like clothes (textiles), which explains the importance of properly washing clothes at high temperature.
Lice eggs can survive 6 days outside their community.
Who is most affected by head lice?
Lice are not a sign of poor hygiene, on the contrary, because head lice generally prefer dry, non-greasy and clean hair. The hair of children often meet these requirements, which explains why children are usually those most affected. Based on the close contacts of children and the quality of their hair, children from 5 to 11 years especially will be strongly affected by lice.
Also note that lice are more prevalent among girls. One of the most recent studies was conducted in 2009 on 850 students (study noted by the paper “Sounds” from February 2010) and revealed that girls had a rate of infestation of 13.5% against only 0.7% among boys.
How do you know you have head lice?
One of the most obvious signs of head lice is itching of the scalp. Lice and nits are very small hence quite hard to see. They can easily be overlooked during everyday grooming rituals. Moreover, it can sometimes take weeks for the itching to begin, and your child in this case will already be very infested. You might notice your kid starts scratching his head on a regular basis. The itching might not start right away and it also depends on how sensitive your child’s skin is to the lice.
You should watch out for head lice eggs, also called nits. As said previously, they are very small, and their color is yellow, tan or brown before they hatch. After they have hatched the shells may be white or appear clear. Nits can be seen with the naked eye on the shafts of the hair close but not always to the skin’s surface.
It is hard to tell the difference between dead nits and dandruff when looking at them, but an easy way to find out is to check to see if they will easily brush off the hair. Dandruff will brush off but nits will not. Unlike dandruff, nits can also be felt between the fingers.
It is more common to see nits on the child’s hair than it is to see live insects crawling around the scalp unless the infestation is extremely heavy. This can happen sometimes when your child is not scratching his head.
Once you know that your child definitely has head lice you need to get rid of it quickly. There are several ways to kill lice so you should do some research and choose the method you like most. Be careful before trying remedies through word of mouth, as many people will definitely not be giving you the best advice.
Articles Related to Head Lice and Lice Eggs: