Lice Treatment, Health Effects, Its Types, Causes, Symptoms, Medical Treatments, Home Remedies, Medicinal Oils, Types of Treatment, Prevention and FAQ
What is Lice?
Lice is a type of small parasite that lives in our hair roots (especially long and unclean) and survives by eating blood from the scalp. Their bite causes itching and many people find it quite disgusting.
Lice lay eggs and breed near hair roots, on the scalp. These eggs are called ‘Nits’. The next generation usually hatches within a week.
Health Effects of Lice and Treatment
These lice grow and spread rapidly. They are often reported to spread more easily from one to the other in kindergartens and schools. They can be removed from the base of the hair by proper care and cleanliness. There are several treatments or home remedies to get rid of these annoying parasites.
Head lice are a quite common problem, especially among children between the age of 3 and 12. Outbreaks are also common in kindergartens, day care centers and schools. Existence of these parasites can be seen in the first few months after the summer break. It is not very harmful and does not carry any disease except itching and annoying feelings. But these can lead to side and individual problems if they are more than the limit in numbers.
Further, this article discusses the problems of head lice, its health effects ways to get rid of it and other important related information.
Types of Lice Affecting Your Health
There are three types of head lice that exist-
- Mature adults
‘Nit’ is the lice egg that is attached to the hair shaft and usually hatches within a week. These tiniest eggs are easy to misunderstand with dandruff.
Causes of Getting Lice
Head lice are most common in children. They are often spread through direct body contact, for example when children play together.
While some people think that head lice are a sign of dirtiness, lice do not care whether your hair is clean or dirty. They only feed on blood. So anyone can get a head lice problem.
Girls are a little more likely to have this problem than boys. Hair length can have no effect on the risk of getting head lice, but it is more difficult to find these parasites in long, thick and curly hair.
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Symptoms of Lice Affected Head
Head lice are not always immediately noticeable. However, the following symptoms may appear-
- Irritating sensation on your scalp or feeling of something moving in your hair
- Itching on lice bite, and pain in itching areas
- Itching causes trouble in falling asleep as lice are more active at night.
What can you do to prevent Lice?
There are no 100% effective ways to prevent head lice. But in some ways you can prevent it from spreading. The lice are almost always spread directly through head to head contact.
Since the lice are needed to consume blood from the scalp in every 2 to 4 hours, they cannot usually survive far away from the scalp. They will die on their own if they stay away from the scalp for a long time.
Eggs, on the other hand, have to be close to the scalp as they need warm temperatures from the scalp to hatch and turn into Nymphs. So there is no possibility of lice to spread through sharing of objects used for the hair. Yet this theory of spreading cannot be completely denied.
Stay on the safe side, be careful and make sure your child doesn’t share things like hats, scarves or hairbrushes. Apart from this you can also do the following:
- Clean the comb, brush and hair accessories thoroughly with hot water and soap and leave them separately for a few days,
- Wash or place the used bed, sleep bag, cloth and towel in 60 degree Celsius or in dryer,
- Put clothes and soft toys (that cannot be washed) in sealed tight plastic bags and leave them at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius for 2,3 days.
Pets are safe from lice; they live only on the human scalp. So in this case it is not necessary to use any pesticide to sterilize your home.
Treatment is required only if you find live lice or eggs on the head that are capable of survival. In this case it is important to take quick action to prevent these from spreading further. Treatment of head lice includes:
- Insecticide-based treatments
- Silicon-based products (Dimeticone or Dimethicone)
Plant-based treatment (for example coconut oil) is available. There is a lack of good research on the effectiveness of such treatments, and on home remedies such as olive oil or mayonnaise.
Currently, head lice have developed immunity to certain pesticides, so these products are less effective than before. Treatment with silicon is becoming more popular. They do not contain pesticides, so there is no problem related to resistance. Silicon-based treatment covers the lice with a layer of oil, causing them to suffocate. Most of these have to be re-applied in about 7 to 10 days.
The use of lice comb is not enough if used as the only treatment. But it is important to use the comb to check if other treatments have been successfully working. After applying lice treatment, experts recommend combing the hair with the lice comb every three days for at least two weeks.
If your child has a few nits even after treatment has been done, but you haven’t got any grown lice for a while, parasites are probably gone. The nit or parts of nit can stick to the hair for weeks after having head lice. Looking at how far the nits are from the scalp, it is known how old the nits are. Hair grows at a rate of about one centimeter per month. So any nit, more than a centimeter away from the scalp, is quite old and unlikely to hatch.
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Home Remedies for Head Lice
As a home remedy, you can try applying-
- Tea tree oil,
- Lavender oil,
- Neem oil,
- Clove oil,
- Eucalyptus oil,
- Aniseed oil,
- Cinnamon leaf oil,
- Red thyme oil,
- Peppermint oil,
- Nutmeg oil etc.
Wash any lice infested thing or cloth in hot water at least 130°F (54° Centigrade), put it in a hot dryer for 15 minutes or more, or place the product in an air-tight plastic bag and leave it for two weeks to destroy lice.
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The article provides some necessary information about the problem of head lice, its health effects and treatments. This information is based on trusted sources and provided only for educational purposes. If the problem gets severe it is advised to seek expert’s help.
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1) What are head lice?
A. These are parasite insects found in human heads, eyebrows and eyelids. Head lice survive consuming human blood several times a day and live near the scalp. Lice are not known to spread diseases.
2) Where is the head lice commonly found?
A. The lice and the nits of the head lice are found almost exclusively on the scalp, especially around the ear and behind the back and back of the head near the neckline. Lice are sometimes found in the eyelids or eyebrows but it is unusual and extremely rare. Lice hold the hair tightly with hook-like nails at the end of each of their six legs. The Nits are firmly stuck in the hair shaft and it can be difficult to remove even when the nymphs appear.
3) What are the symptoms of head lice infection?
- Irritating feelings of something moving in the hair.
- Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the head lice bite.
- Discomfort and difficulty sleeping; as the head lice are most active in the dark.
- Lesions on the head due to itching. These lesions can sometimes be transmitted by bacteria found in the person’s skin.
4) Does head nausea spread the disease?
A. Head lice should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Head lice are not known to spread disease. But these can be annoying as their presence can lead to itching and disruptive sleep. Sometimes lice can cause excessive itching resulting in secondary skin infections.
5) Can wigs or hairpieces spread lice?
A. The lice and their eggs (nits) are soon destroyed if they are separated from the human scalp. Adult head lice can live only one day or more without blood from the human head. On the other hand, the nymphs (small lice) can only survive for several hours. If away from the scalp Nit (egg of lice) usually die within a week and those that are at a long distance from the skin cannot hatch due to the low temperature. For these reasons, the risk of lice infection from wigs or other hair pieces is very low, especially if the wig or hairpiece is not worn by someone who has been actively affected by the living lice within the previous 48 hours.