The head louse is a whitish to grey-brown coloured tiny, wingless parasitic insect. When first hatched these are smaller than the size of pin-head and grow up to the size of sesame seed when full grown. They live among human hair and thought they are not dangerous, they thrive sucking small amounts of blood from the head scalp.
Spotting a live louse or nymph (a young louse) is often the only sign of an infestation. Seeing nits alone doesn’t confirm an infestation. In many children, head lice don’t cause any discomfort. When symptoms do happen, the most common problem is itching that may start weeks or even months after the lice move in.
This problem is very common in kids. The main reason of having head louse is contact with an infected person. They do not have wings and are unable to jump or swim on their own. They spread by head to head contact and pass on from an infected person to a healthy one. This makes them contagious. Their bites cause itching which makes them irritating and sometimes, it becomes difficult to get rid of them. This problem can occur in everyone irrespective of the length and type of hair. They do not occur in animals and hence cannot be transferred from them. An infestation of head lice is called aspediculosis capitis, the second most common problem in children after common cold.
We know that head lice can sometimes, become difficult to get rid of. Let’s see how we can prevent them before they prey our scalps.
- It is beneficial to incorporate good habits especially in children. To reduce any chances of getting infected, teach your children and practice yourself a habit of not sharing items that touches the head. Try to avoid sharing combs, brushes, towels, headsets and other hair accessories.
- Never get head to head contact. Try to avoid touching your head with someone else’s as much as possible. We find children getting to close while playing with their friends. Teach them to keep distance while enjoying with their friends. Adults who, due to their profession or simply while parenting, should follow the same principle.
- Shared spaces can be a lice farm! They can be found very easily in hostels. Using common closets, drawers, clothes or clothes hooks can pass the problem from one person to another very easily.
- Ladies infected from head lice should keep their hair tied, pony tailed or made into buns to avoid their spillage in the surroundings.
- Regular check-ups can contain the problem and rescue other people in the surroundings. A common test to check the presence of head lice is to lather the hair using some conditioner and then brushing thoroughly with a thin-toothed comb. Inspection for head lice can be done visually under direct sunlight.
- Spread awareness about the basic good and cleanliness habits one should practice and he preventive measures needed to contain head lice in the community.
Is contact with an infected person the only cause of head lice? Let’s find out.
- A lot of research has been done so as to find out the origin of head lice. It has been found that the head lice have co-evolved with human beings over thousands of years. Recent studies show that body lice have evolved from head lice.
- There is a section of scientists who strongly cancel out the possibility of getting head lice from poor self-hygiene. According to them, this problem has been transmitted from one person to another since ages. Our primate relatives were troubled by a different species of head lice which has now evolved into the present form.
- The only way a louse can move is by crawling. It is also possible for them to crawl onto a person’s belongings and then conquer his/her scalp.
- Though, the problem is irrespective of a person’s gender and hygiene. According to National Pediculosis Association African-Americans are less prone to head lice than their Caucasian, Asian or Hispanic peers. The only reason can be the difference in hair texture.
We have found that the head louse is common problem and occurs only in humans. If not treat properly and in an early stage, they can be very irritating.
- Nitpicking and combing: Though tiring, it is the best available solution to get rid of head lice. This method acts as a finishing move in almost every other treatment. A finely-toothed metal comb is used to brush the hairs repeatedly to remove lice and nits
- Pyrethrum: Pyrethrum is also the active ingredient of Rid. It is derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Natural insecticides called pyrethrins are also obtained from these flowers. Pyrethrins demolish the nervous systems of live lice and render them destroyed.
- Use of substances readily available at home like garlic, salt, olive oil, baby oil, coconut oil, petroleum jelly, tea tree oil, white vinegar, sesame seed oil and mayonnaise can also eradicate lice.
- Hot-air methods have proved to be highly effective in killing nits; however they are less impactful in killing live lice. Using a hair dryer on freshly washed hair can increase the chances of killing lice.
- You can try drowning the lice by immersing your hair under water. However, there are chances that it will not work at all. Reports suggest that lice are capable of surviving under water for several hours at a time.
If the at-home treatment does not work or this seems more than you can handle, you should see a dermatologist for treatment.