Lice are tiny insects that reside in people’s hairs. They feed on the blood of the individual they are living on. Lice are known to glue their eggs to the scalp to prevent it from brushing off. The nits are actually quite small, oval, and whitish. They appear to be tan-colored in case of a very light hair. These lice don’t know how to jump or fly and can only transfer from one individual’s head to another when they come in contact with each other
They are pretty quick crawlers but stay close to the scalp. Head lice prefer to stay in a protected environment but they can easily be knocked off from your head to your pillow and be transferred to someone else who uses the same pillow. This parasite likes a warm, dark environment, and is often found under a ponytail or behind the ears or at the nape of the neck. Eyelashes and eyebrows can also have lice.
There are 3 types of Lice:
- Head Lice
- Public Lice
- Body Lice
All the 3 types of lice belong to the same family but are actually different species. The most common of them is the head lice which we treat.
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We have listed out some facts about head lice that you might not have ever heard before. Read the article below to know more about the parasite that feeds on your blood without you even knowing about it.
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Facts about Head Lice
• One of the top three reasons why kids miss their school
• They are extremely common among kids aged 3-11 years-old and around 6-12 million U.S. kids face them.
• They are not signs of unclean or unwashed hair. They live in clean hair.
• They are unable to fly, swim, or jump.
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• They are unable to survive on your pets.
• They are unable to survive in any other part of your environment such as sheets, pillows, carpets, couch, car, mattress, airplane, movie theater, etc.
Ugly Truth About Lice
• Lice may appear small but are mighty. An adult louse is known to crawl twenty-three centimeters in a minute.
• Studies suggest that lice prefer sweet blood. They have an aversion to testosterone, so their preferred targets are females.
• Lice have been programmed genetically to search for new hosts or heads every time.
• Lice prefer well-groomed and clean hair.
• Reports suggest that about 53 percent of the people who have lice do not itch. And if there’s no itching you hardly care whether there are lice on your hair or not. You could do a weekly check using a nit comb to get hold of them early.
• The eggs of the lice are called nits and are quite hard to detect owing to their miniature size. Thus, the chances of re-infection are huge.
• Most parents have reported that nits return after 3-4 weeks of clearing their child’s head. This indicates that they might have caught them from somewhere else. But the actual reason is that they were never really cleared in the first place. The lice may have been eliminated but not the nits. The nits generally hatch in those 3 weeks and become lice.
• To end this chain, you will need to clear the nits along with the lice from your hair.
• A common myth is that adults do not get lice. The chemicals that we use today are too gentle to kill the lice.
• On an average, the infestation of lice is about 20. Their lifespans up to 30 days. The female louse lay about 5-10 eggs every day. The number can rise up to hundred or even thousand in a couple of weeks.
• Once the female louse has mated, she never has to do it again for the rest of her life. She can store the sperms in a special container present in her body and use it with each passing day to lay eggs. The female louse needs to be admired for this.
13 Things that you never knew About Head Lice
1. Head Lice have been present in human heads for hundreds of years. They have been preying on human blood for all this while. Even the mummies that have been discovered in Egypt have dried lice on their scalp.
2. The head louse prefers humans as compared to cats and dogs and cannot survive on their skins or head. These animals are actually immune from these itchy parasites
3. African Americans are less prone to cases of lice as compared to others. Studies suggest that the rates of infestation of head lice are about 10% in most people but the figure drops to only 0.5% in case of African Americans
4. It is really difficult to get the nits off the hairs but you could use refined white vinegar to remove them from your follicles.
5. When an outbreak of lice occurs, most people spray their house to prevent it from spreading. But it isn’t always necessary. Head louse can survive for 24 hours only outside a human head. It does not possess the ability to jump or fly. You could simply wash out your linens. It is a good practice to avoid sitting on the couch until the predicament is resolved. Be careful not to use pesticides in your house as it could do more harm than good.
6. Children below 2-years of age should never be exposed to pesticides that are used for treating lice. It can damage their health. You could use a lice comb as an alternative.
7. If the eggs (nits) have been laid over a centimeter away from your scalp, chances are that they won’t hatch. Lice are known to lay their eggs in proximity to the scalp as the body temperature is warm enough to incubate the nits.
8. Head lice have been roaming on this planet for more than a million years.
9. The evolution of the head lice has been such it body functions perfectly on the area on which it grows. You must remember that the area here is human hair. The size of a head louse is equivalent to a sesame seed. Owing to its tan-brown color, it is camouflaged easily
10. The size of female head louse is larger than its male counterpart. This is due to the fact that the female has containers that can store male sperm and use it to produce eggs every day for her entire lifespan.
11. The female head louse has a special kind of saliva with strong glue-like qualities. She uses this glue to stick the eggs to the hair. The only way to eliminate them is to pick them out manually. The chemical treatments can eliminate the eggs but not dissolve the bond created by the saliva.
12. Head lice can die if they do not have access to a fresh supply of human blood from the scalp within 2 days.
13. There is no season for lice. It is present throughout the year.
Life Cycle of a Louse
Eggs: The head lice eggs (often referred to as nits) are really hard to see from the naked eye and are mistaken to be dandruff or droplets of hairspray. Nits are found at the base of the hair, near the scalp.
Nymphs: Once the egg hatches, it releases a nymph. The shell of the nit becomes a more noticeable dull-yellow colored object. But still, it remains fastened to the hair. Nymphs are considered to have matured after 3 molts. They turn into adults after 7 days from the time of hatching.
Adults: Once the nymph matures, it becomes an adult with 6 legs and a claw. Its color changes from dull yellow to grayish white. If you have a dark hair, the color of the nice would be even darker. Adults are quick in their process of multiplication and can lay up to 8 eggs in a day. They have a lifespan of 30 days on one’s head. A louse can survive 2 days without any blood meal.
Symptoms that you have Head Lice
You may not even know that you have head lice. Head lice are human parasites but you wouldn’t realize that they have been feeding off your head.
1. Itching: Some people are allergic to lice bites which are responsible for the continuous itching.
2. Moving sensation in Hair: If you don’t feel like itching, you might feel something moving in your hair like a tickling feeling.
3. Sores: Sores may develop due to vigorous scratching. Once you are treated, they’ll disappear.
4. Irritability and Trouble Sleeping: You’ll feel irritated if your head has lice. You don’t feel normal in your head and might face trouble while sleeping.
5. Tiny White Flakes Appearing: Lice eggs resemble dandruff in their appearance but they do not shake off due to their glue-like substance.
Head Lice Spread By:
• Head-to-head contact with anyone who is suffering from head lice.
• Sharing thing such as combs, barrettes, caps, ribbons, scarves, hats, helmets, pillows, towels, brushes, and coats that directly come in contact with an individual’s head.
• Children belonging to the age 5-12 years get lice frequently as their heads come in contact when they play together.
How Can You Prevent Head Lice?
The sooner you detect Lice, the better it is for you. There are different views available on the internet whether you should follow the natural methods or chemical one for treating lice.
The only pediculosis treatment available in history was a comb. It was used to remove both the eggs and the head lice. Today, many options are available to prevent the head lice with much more degree of safety, and higher costs. Their speed and efficacy have improved over the years. We have listed some of them out which you can try if you want.
Lice Combs: These combs are made of plastic and manually remove the lice and their eggs from the hair. The more experience you gain while using it, the more chances are of getting rid of the eggs. It can be time-consuming but brings results. For some, the process might be painful especially if you are a beginner.
Pesticides: Lice shampoos that are used to treat head lice contain pesticides. Earlier, they used to be quite effective in their treatment and killed head lice. But over the time, their efficiency has reduced as lice have developed resistance to our existing products. These products are ineffective in killing nits.
Essential Oils: These oils are promoted as alternatives to chemical pesticides in treating lice. Homeopathic products contain essential oils that kill lice. They might be safer to use as compared to chemical pesticides but some of them aren’t regulated by FDA. But even these oils prove to be less effective when it comes to killing lice eggs. You need to use it multiple times to gain results.
Dehydration: A new way has emerged to treat head lice. Heated air is a trending method to treat it and data shows that it is quite effective. It does not mean that you use your hair dryer to remove lice but special products are available in the market that can kill lice using heated air.
These interesting facts about head lice will make you want to scratch your head even harder. But ensure that you do not have lice in your head. Get it checked regularly by an experienced person and take precautions.
Anyone can get head lice. They are not limited to any ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. Males are less likely to catch them as compared to their female counterparts as they have shorter hair. Lice may be mistaken for dandruff at first but you should always be careful of this parasite. Parents seemed to be misinformed about head lice and are thus unaware of the symptoms or prevention measures.