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How To Identify And Treat Head Lice

Pediculus Humanus Capitis, more commonly referred to as a head louse, is oddly enough only encountered on the scalps of human beings. This little parasite which can be anything between 1mm and 3mm has a highly adapted mouth to feed on human blood. Head lice are also extremely contagious and may spread through a whole family over a very short period of time. But it doesn’t mean that the original host of these little parasites has insufficient sanitation.

Head lice can be transferred from host to host by either sharing baseball caps, combs, brushes and just about anything else that goes from one infected head to any other uninfected head. Unlike a tick, head lice cannot jump and only have six short legs, ill-adapted at even walking, but brilliant at holding onto the strands of hair.

So how do you know when you or your children have them? Well, the first clue is a continuous itch or tingling sensations behind the ears or at the back of the head above the hairline where they are most commonly found. And seeing as they are visible with the naked eye, closer inspection will reveal the presence of these white-colored little parasites. They might also appear a lighter shade of brown, depending on whether they just fed or not.

Fortunately head lice is a problem easily solved with the only real effort lying in the fact that all the clothes, bedding and every other item where an infected head might have been, need to be washed. In addition, as a preventative measure, all other persons in the household of the individual(s) infected with head lice should also be treated. Here are a couple of steps to eliminate this nasty little parasite:

  1. Head lice treatments or shampoos are also known as pediculucides and is readily available at most retail outlets. When applying the pediculucides, pay attention to the instructions on the back of the bottle. For those with longer, more voluminous hair, a bit more pediculucide should be applied.
  2. Leave gaps of up to two days between treatments. Remember that hair is fragile and over-washing might strip the hair of its layer of sebum (a protective layer that coats each hair).
  3. Nits are the eggs of head lice and are attached up to 1cm from the scalp on the hair strand. Using a specialized nit comb or brush after treating the hair with pediculucide will remove any dead or dying head lice and nits from the head.

The above instructions should serve only as a guideline and should be replaced with the instructions on the bottle of the particular pediculucide. If after a few days of treatment all head lice activity seems to be normal, then you might want to consider using an alternative product. In addition, care should be taken when washing the clothing and bedding that might have come into contact with the affected individual. Always use a hot wash and carefully examine darker materials for any signs of head lice.