Head Lice are parasites that can be found on the head of humans. Colonization of head lice of hair and skin is called Pediculosis Capitis. The parasitic head lice are medically known as Pediculus Humanus Capitis. Only the head and scalp of human are infested by head lice. They feed on human blood and cause itching after they bite. Lice infestation in general is called pediculosis.
Unlike the body lice and crab lice, head lice are not known to be carriers of infectious diseases. Head lice are endemic and are more common in children. One out of ten children has been infested with head lice at one point in their life. Despite the advance of medical treatment, head lice is still one of the public health concerns in today’s societies.
The most common symptoms of head lice infestation is itching or pruritus on the head that intensifies 3 to 4 weeks after initial infestation. The bites are very mild that it cannot be seen between hairs. Bites are visible in the neck of long haired individuals and can be seen when hair is put aside. Rare cases of impetigo and pyoderma can happen as well as symptoms of fever and lymph nodes swelling.
How Head Lice Spreads
Head lice can spread through many ways. It can be spread by close contact with an infested person in areas such as schools, home, parties, and sport activities. Wearing infested materials such hats, coats, scarves, hair ribbons, comb, brushes and towels can also transmit head lice to an individual. An individual can also get head lice when he or she lies on bed, pillow, stuffed toy, or carpet where an infested person has come in contact with.
There are three forms of head lice namely nits, nymph and adult louse.
• Nits are eggs of the head lice that can be mistaken with dandruff. They are so tiny that sometimes they can go unnoticed. They are found attached on hair shafts and are oval in shape. Nits are white or yellow in color and take about a week to hatch. When a nit hatches it turns into a nymph.
• Nymphs are baby head lice. They feed on blood to survive. Nymphs turn into full grown adult head lice after seven days.
• Adult louse is about a size of a sesame seed. Female lice are larger than males. They can live in the head of an individual up to 30 days. They feed on blood in order to live. When lice fall off the head, they will die in two days.
The treatment for head lice includes Pyrethrins, Permethrins, Lindane Shampoo, and Malathion.
• Pyrethrins and Permethrins are safe and effective medications. Pyrethrins and Permethrins kill crawling lice and not unhatch eggs.
• Lindane Shampoo (Kwell Shampoo), on the other hand, is the most famous medicinal treatment for head lice. This medication is only used once because this is a very toxic drug.
• Malathion is a new recommended drug for killing head lice. It has the component of isoprophyl alcohol and terpineol that are known to kill head lice.
Since this condition is very common among children, regular inspection of the head is required to detect possible infestations. Keeping long hair tidy may also reduce the risk of acquiring head lice. Materials that came in contact with an infested person such as beddings, towels and brushes can be disinfected by leaving them outside for 3 days or by washing at 60 degree Celsius for at least 30 minutes