Head lice is an infection that is caused by a parasite. It affects the head of a person, mostly affecting the scalp, behind of the ears, and on the neckline. The condition is rarely seen to be affected in other parts of the body like the eyelashes or eyebrows. The infection is also known as pediculosis. The parasite that causes the condition is wingless and cannot fly. It transfers from one person to the other mostly through direct contact or by sharing of the things used by the infected person, such as clothes, towels, brushes, and combs. The parasite has a life span of about thirty days but it cannot survive for more than two days if it is not on the head of its host. Head lice survive on the blood of its host and result in causing irritation and sores on the head. Head lice is mostly not a serious condition and are seen to be affected by children. Here are three things you should know about head lice.
Head lice can be diagnosed by closely examining the scalp of a person. Nymphs, nits or adult lice can be found by looking through the hair. But this is difficult sometimes as the lice can move through the hair quickly than the fingers can find them. The location of the nits would let you know if the infestation is new or old. The infestation is an old one if the nits are placed about a quarter of an inch away from the scalp.
If you are not able to confirm whether the person is affected by lice, it is better to take the help of a healthcare professional. They can diagnose the condition by inspecting the scalp under a microscope. You can use a black light to see the presence of lice; nits will give out fluorescent light if kept under black light.
Over the counter medication can be used to effectively get rid of head lice. But it is important to remove all the old clothing which might have been infected by the parasite. Pediculicide is the medicine that has to be applied on the scalp once the clothes are removed. It is important not to use any shampoo or conditioner before the application of the medicine. It is advisable to not wash the hair for a couple of days after the treatment is done. But combs can be used to remove the dead lice that are present in the head after treatment.
As always, prevention is better than cure. So follow these steps and prevent head lice from spreading:
- Do not share clothing that is worn by the affected person
- Avoid hair to hair contact with the person who is affected by the condition
- Do not lie on the bed, pillow or use the bed sheet or bedspread used by the infected person
- Do not share towels, combs, and brush with the infected person
Lice infestation is not the serious issue in most of the cases. But the sores formed due to the scratching of the head can lead to other infections. So it is always a good idea to consult a doctor and get rid of the condition.