Pediculosis is the technical term for an infestation of lice. A head louse, singular for lice, is a parasitic insect in the order of phthiraptera. Lice are considered ecotoparasites because they feed on the blood of other animals. Lice, and other creatures similar to them, attach themselves to warm blooded animals such as mammals or birds. Lice are particularly known to infest humans. They usually live in the hair on the human head but can also infest every other part of the body with hair. Head lice infestation is called pediculosis humanus capitis. There are many effective ways to kill head lice if you or a loved one is carrying an infestation.
Lice infestation is not considered deadly. However a person who is carrying a lice infestation generally will not feel all that great. Killing head lice is very important if you or a loved on is currently infested. Lice treatments usually include a insecticide such as pyrethrin or permethrin. Aside from insecticidal treatments there are many other choices however. Head lice generally don't carry diseases but body and pubic lice may. Children are the most most likely to get a infestation of head lice. It is so common for a child to get head lice that it is considered and endemic.
Children between the ages of three and ten are the most susceptible to head louse infestation. A infestation will rarely stay on just a single child however. The family, friends, and classmates get this disease quite often as well. Women and young girls, because of their long hair, are more likely than males to carry head lice. Black people, especially from Afro-Caribbean descend, are less likely to get head lice as well. This is because the consistency of their hair isn't a very good environment for head lice. Children from this lineage may carry nits however. A nit is a lice egg. The egg can still hatch and be transferred to another child even if the child will never get a significant infestation on their own head.
Head-to-head contact is one of the only ways lice are spread. Lice do not have wings and therefor cannot fly. Lice also do not have the ability to jump significant distances. Lice can also be transferred through personal items such as clothing and hats. Body lice can also be transferred this way because they spend most of their time living on clothing rather than in their body hair. Lice that live in pubic hair are usually known as crabs. This is because they have shorter bodies and large crab like claws. These lice are almost always spread through intimate contact. Lice that live on humans cannot live on other animals, and vise versa.
When a lice is full grown it will only be close to the size of a sesame seed. Lice feed on blood. They use a long needle like mouth to break through the skin and suck out the blood. This is very similar to the process mosquitoes use to feed. Lice can feed up to eight times a day, or every three hours. Contrary to several old wives tales, lice do not, and cannot burrow under a person's skin.
There are several different symptoms you or a loved one might show if they are infested with lice. An itchy scalp or neck is usually the first symptom to become obvious. The itching comes from saliva left behind by feeding lice which irritates the skin. The bumps left behind by feeding are very similar to mosquito bites and itch in a similar way. The itchying, and other factors, usually lead to an infested individual losing sleep. Lice droppings are small black specs. You will be able to see them on the hair of an infested individual and they will be far more obvious if they have blond hair. You will also be able to see them on their pillow case. Lice also leave behind their nits, egg shells, which appear similar to dandruff. Unlike dandruff nits will not come off easily because lice use a substance to concrete them onto the scalp.
You still may be wondering how to kill head lice. There are several different cures or treatment options that can be used to kill lice. Killing lice can be complicated because no treatment is guaranteed to work every single time. This is because lice treatments often only kill all of the living lice, but there are no common remedies that can also kill the eggs. Chemical treatments, special medicated combs, shaving of the hair, killing lice with hot air, silicone based lotions, and many different natural remedies are the ways that are reputed to kill lice.
Because you cannot kill all of the lice in one treatment they must be repeated once every ten days until all of the lice are completely eradicated. Ten days is the correct amount of time because lice eggs take between six and nine days to hatch. Between these two treatments it is also important to use a lice comb to remove all of the bodies and as many nits as possible. This can be done immediately after the treatment while the hair is still wet. Most importantly however, you should follow the directions of your chosen treatment as close as possible. Three to five days after the second application of the lice treatment the hair of the child should be checked with the delousing comb again to see if all of the lice have been killed. Some symptoms, such as the itchy head, may persist till a few days after all of the lice are dead.
One other common way to kill head lice is to shave all of your hair. You can cut the hair very short or shave it all the way to the scalp. This can, at the very least, help prevent lice. Shaving the head also makes controlling an ongoing infestation much easier to completely remove, even if it will not do it immediately. This is not recommended for some children however. It have had severe psychological effects on some children, especially girls. It is often socially acceptable to shave a boys head though, especially during the hot summer months.