Insects. They fly, they crawl, they surround us. Speaking of insects, there is one particular type of wingless insect that lives on the scalp of people. I bet you already know what I’m talking about. That’s right, these are lice. Head lice are highly contagious and actually a very common problem, and there are some cases that are hard to get rid of. It’s a good thing you’re reading this article, though, because we’ll tell you all about the causes, symptoms and treatments for head lice. So sit back, relax and enjoy the read!
What are Head Lice?
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Head lice, scientifically known as Pediculus humanus capitis, are an invasion of the head that can spread at the snap of a finger and multiply even quicker. It’s very easy to infect those around you if you have it. Humans are the only species that get head lice, although other primates have similar lice which invade them. With the exception of extreme scratching, the lice don’t cause a lot of harm. Small anthropods, the lice live off the host’s blood by attaching themselves to the scalp and sucking off some of the rich sources of blood close the skin.
A louse injects saliva into the host while it feeds itself to prevent any blood clotting. This can result in an allergic reaction or itching sensation, and scratching that itch can lead to bacterial infection. However, lice don’t really transmit any diseases.
Because lice are so common, there are many treatments available around the world, but each culture tends to have their own answer.
Causes of Head Lice
An infestation of head lice may result from the direct transfer of the lice from an infested person. Lice cannot fly or jump because they do not have wings or long legs, but they can be transmitted through personal items like hats, clothing, towels, headphones, headbands, brushes and other things that may touch your hair.
Having lice isn’t really the result of poor hygiene or dirty hair, and it can happen to people with any length of hair. Lice also can’t be passed via animals.
Symptoms of Head Lice
An itchy scalp is the most common sign of lice. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the lice’s saliva, but people may also just be extremely sensitive to the biting itself. On the other hand, people can also build up a tolerance to the saliva and not get any itchiness if they get infested again.
Other symptoms of head lice include:
- Pink eye
- Swollen glands, or lymph nodes
- Sores that appear on the head because of scratching
- Difficulty sleeping and irritability
- Sensation of something moving in the hair or tickling the head
Treatments for Head Lice
There are several products or treatments for head lice available in pharmacies or department stores that can treat the condition. These medications contain about 1% pyrethrins or permethrin. Other FDA-approved medications include:
- Ivermectin lotion
- Spinosad topical suspension
- Benzyl alcohol lotion
- Malathion lotion
- Pyrethrin-based product
- Permethrin cream
All of these products areknown as pediculicides, and they are very strong, so it’s important to consult with your doctor before trying them.
If you want to go the natural way, you can use the following home treatments for head lice:
- Tea tree oil
- Petroleum jelly
- Baby oil
- Olive oil
- Lavender oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Ylang-ylang oil
- Anise oil
All the above-mentioned treatments for head lice are effective. If your head lice don’t vanish after a few weeks, then consult your dermatologist.