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Head Lice Fast Facts

Written by Courteney

Posted on September 27, 2016 at 2:35 am

Dreaded head lice can be quite an obnoxious problem for any parent or person in general, so what can be done to avoid them, how are they spread and how are they treated? Let’s take a look!

  • Head lice, medically known as Pediculus humanus capitis, are parasites that thrive on the human scalp, but can also be found on the eyelashes or eyebrows and behind the ears. Lice are spread interpersonally by contact, or less commonly, by sharing items like toys, brushes or clothing.
  • A lice infection is called pediculosis.
  • Lice eggs, or ‘nits’, are often mistaken for dandruff because they are only small white dots, but when the lice grow into adults, they are much easier to spot. They are a few millimeters in length and can be spotted fairly easily with the naked eye.
  • They are common among small children who are often in close contact with one another, especially in school or daycare environments.
  • There are up to 12 million lice infestations annually in the United States among young children alone.
  • Records and genetic testing have revealed that lice have plagued human scalps since the beginning of mankind!
  • If you’ve come in contact with someone who has lice or contaminated items such as a book bag, you can become infested.
  • Head lice is more prevalent among females, possibly because they often have long, plentiful hair.
  • Lice are not carriers of other disease.
  • Adult lice have 6 legs and travel using their legs and claws.
  • Lice require human blood to survive longer than matter of hours, so lice could not survive on a wig for long, as they would be unable to access the scalp for feeding.
  • Signs you or your child may have lice include: discomfort and difficulty in the night, itching or extreme itching, a tickling feeling in the hair, sores or welts caused by scratching.
  • Doctors often use a magnifying glass and fine-toothed comb to diagnose lice, as they can be difficult to find sometimes.
  • Lice can survive underwater for a few hours, and surprisingly, aren’t even killed off by chemical treatments in swimming pools.
  • Some people believe mayonnaise can smother and kill lice. While it may work in some cases, the claim is not empirically supported.
  • Head lice do not infest pets, only humans.
  • There are effective lice treatments on the market, but you should check with your doctor before using them on small children as they may be weight-dosage requirements.
  • It is not necessary to fumigate after a lice infestation, simply clean the house very thoroughly and seal contaminated items in plastic bags for a week or 2, and washing in hot water will kill lice and nits on clothing.

While they are not a serious medical condition, lice are a very bothersome one and would be best avoided. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions, our qualified board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365!


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