All About Head Lice

Lice are very small, wingless parasitic insects that suck your blood as a source of their food. There are three main types of lice i.e. head, body, and pubic lice, identified by the part of the human body they affect. All types of lice are very contagious. The most common ones are head lice. They live exclusively in our hair near the scalp.

As lice don’t have wings, lice crawl and they cannot get airborne. They live, feed and lay eggs on your scalp. You surely don’t have to visit an urgent care clinic as head lice, unlike their cousins, don’t spread disease but they can lead to complications if left untreated.

Cause

Contrary to popular belief that a person gets infected by head lice due to poor hygiene or the people of a certain class or race are more likely to have a head lice infestation, it can happen to anyone. Lice love to live in places that are warm, dark and moist. People with long hair are more at risk to have lice infestations.

The main causes of head lice infestations are:

  • Moisture in scalp that provides a perfect environment for the development of lice eggs.
  • Having head-to-head contact with an infected person.
  • Sharing combs with an infected person.
  • Sharing headwear with an infected person.
  • Sharing a bed with an infected person.

Symptoms

Due to their small size and fast movement, head lice are very difficult to be spotted visually but it is still possible. The symptoms are not noticeable until three to four weeks of getting infested by lice. Head lice infestation might be the reason behind:

  • Extreme itching on the scalp
  • Feeling that something is crawling and tickling on your head
  • Red ridges on neck or scalp
  • Sores

When it comes to visual identification, you can either look for lice eggs (white oval shaped, sesame seed-sized objects), nymphs (lice that recently hatched from the eggs) or adult lice.

Treatment

There are different ways to get rid of head lice. The treatments range from home remedies to medications. It is recommended to try home remedies before opting for medications.

Home Remedies

Combing is the simplest, easiest and the most efficient way of removing head lice at home. Comb your hair with a fine-tooth lice comb that pulls the lice out of our hair. Massage your head with oil before combing to get better results.

Suffocation of the lice is another way of removing lice at home. Massage your head with mayonnaise or Vaseline and let it stay overnight. Wash your head the next day. The procedure is useful but isn’t as effective as combing

Essential oils diluted with carrier oil plants like neem, clove or nutmeg oil are also very effective against lice. Massage your scalp with diluted essential oils and leave it overnight. Wash it off the next day after combing.

Medications

Doctors may prescribe you different anti-lice shampoos or medications that have their own advantages and side effects. For example, Malathion is the most common and effective medication that not only removes lice but also kills the lice eggs. The medication is highly flammable and it could suppress breathing if ingested. If such a thing happens, visit an urgent care clinic immediately. It is recommended to consult your doctor before use.

Prevention

Here are some easy lifestyle changes to prevent head lice infestations

  • Don’t share combs or towels
  • Avoid head to head contact
  • Keep your head moisture free
  • Weekly comb your hair with fine-tooth lice combs

Visit an urgent care clinic to learn more about head lice from a professional medical expert.