Head Lice Infestation

1 What is a Head Lice Infestation?

Head lice are distinct insects that feed on blood and are natural found on the scalpounter and prescription.

Pediculosis capitis is a name given to a condition brough up by the infestation of head lice.

This condition is more common among children and usaull results from the direct transfer of lice from the hair of one individual to that of another. It must be clearly noted  that head lice is by no means a sign of poor hygiene or an unclean living environment.

Head lice are not carriers of any bacteria or viral infection diseases. Over-the-conter and prescription medications are always available and can be used to treat head lice.

It is very important to follow instructions carefully for ridding the scalp of lice and their eggs. There are several home remedies that can help treat head lice infestations.

However, effectiveness of these remedies has not been established by any clinical evidence.

2 Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms that can help on identify head lice infestation.

It is common for one to be unaware of head lice infestation. 

Itching is the most common symptom of this infestation. It occurs mostly on the scalp, neck, and ears. The itching is caused by an allergic reaction to louse saliva. In people who experience head lice infection for the first time, itching appears only after two to six weeks after the initial infestation.

Lice are very small, this makes it very difficult to spot. They also avoid light and move quickly. Lice lay eggs (nits) on hair shafts. It is a difficult process  seeing incubating nits because of their small size and their camouflage to mach the hair colour.

However, it is relatively easier to spot them on the neck, around the ears and the hairline because they are lighter in colour and further from the scalp. The presence of nits does not necessarily mean an active infestation.

One must see the doctor before beginning any form of treatment. An appointment should me made when one suspects their child has head lice infestation.

3 Causes

The main cause of head lice infestation is head louse.

A head louse can be identified as a tan or greyish insect that is very similar to a strawberry seed in size. This insect feeds on the human blood it extracts from the scalp.

The female louse is known to produce a sticky substance that works like a glue to stick eggs to a hair shaft. Layed eggs are attached approximately 4 millimeters( 3/16 inches)  from the base of the shaft.

This is an environment  that provides ideal condition for the incubation of an egg. In the life cycle of a louse, the egg hatches after eight or nine days from the day it is layed.

After this stage, an immature form on the louse is present called a nymph which develops into the mature adult louse after a period of nine to twelve days.

Adult lice live for three to four weeks. The only mode of motion of flees is by crawling. In most cases transmission of head lose from one person to another is by direct contact.

This makes the transmission of head lice to be more prominent among members of a family or children who live in close proximity to one another.

There is some proof that support the idea that brushing dry hair with static electricity makes lice airborne for a short distance. Indirect transmission occasionally plays a part in the transmission of head lice from one individual to the next.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The first step is always seeing a family doctor or pediatrician as soon as one suspects their child is carrying head lice to receive a diagnosis.

The best practice done to determine weather a child has a head lice infestation is the identification of either the nymph or adult louse. The doctor carefully inspects a child's hair, and if necessary some items undergo a microscopic evaluation before confirming the diagnosis of head lice infestation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, the golden standard for making any diagnosis of head lice infestation is the identification of a live nymph or adult louse. In these guidelines, examination of wet hair lubricated with hair products such as conditioner.

A doctor will carefully comb a child's hair with a fin-toothed nit comb from the scalp to the tip of the hair. If no live lice are found initially, he or she will proceed to try it a second time. The doctor will also look for nits in the child's hair using a specialized light.

5 Treatment

For head lice infestation treatment doctors will always advise one to take over-the-counter medication that can kill the head lice and its eggs. It is very common for these medications to leave newly layed eggs unaffected.

A well timed second treatment will do the trick in eliminating the nymphs after hatching but before the adult stage lice. Several studies have shown that the best time to carry out a second attack is the ninth day after the initial treatment, although other treatment schedules exist.

One can ask their doctor to write down a written list of instructions for a recommended treatment schedule. Over-the-counter medications are based on pyrethrin, this is a chemical compound that is extracted from the chrysanthemum flower.

This flower is poisonous to lice. Children's hair should be carefully washed with shampoo with no conditioner before using any of these treatments.

The glue that holds the nits to the hair shaft can be dissolved by using white vinegar to rinse the hair before washing it. Always follow all directions on a package on how long to leave the medication in the hair and finally, rinse the child's hair over a sink with warm water.

6 Prevention

Preventing the spread of head lice among children is a very cumbersome task. Especially in child care facilities and schools as there is a lot of close contanct among children in these areas.

The chances of any indirect transmission from any personal property is quite light. Children can be told to hang their garments on separate hooks from others children's garments.

The shairing of items like combs, brushes, hats and scarves should be greatly discouraged. One must not use the fear of head lice to be a problem they would not share items such as protctive head gear for sport activities, especially when sharing is necessary.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative remedies exist for head lice infestation.

It is one's decision to choose their way of treatment. If one prefers not to use medication for treating head lice infection, he or she may consider alternative home treatments.

It must be stated that the effectivenes of any home remedies has not been clinically proven. Wet-combing done with a fine-toothed nit comb may remove lice and some nits.

There is no research that supports this method as a very effective one. Hair should be wet to start with, and a lubricant must be applied to it, such as hair conditioner. One must comb the entire head, starting from their scalp to the tip of their hair a minimum of two times each session.

This process must be repeate for three to four days for several weeks. It is usually advised to go on this routine for a minimum of about two weeks after no more lice can be identified.

Some clinical studies have revealed that some natural plant oils may have have a tixic effect on lice and their eggs. These natural oils include the following:

  • Tea tree oil,
  • Anise oil,
  • Ylang ylang oil,
  • Nerolidol,
  • a chical substance found in many plant oils.

Non of these products are expected to meet safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards used for drugs drug production governing bodies.

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with head lice infestation.

For the reason that head lice is spread from spread by head to head contact, the risk is greatest among younger individuals who interact at school or home.

In the United States for example, cases of head lice often occur among children in preschool or middle school.

If one's child scratches an itchy scalp from head lice infestation, it is always possible for the skin to break and develop an infection.

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