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Head Lice Infestation: All what you need to know

Having an insect living and laying its eggs in on your hair is something you do not want to experience. Unfortunately, a surprising number of children, youths and adults still get head lice. The US Food and Drug Administration reported that each year in the United States, about 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur(Source) especially among children 3 to 11 years of age. 

What is Head Lice?

Head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) is an insect that lives in our hair. They feed by sucking our blood. This head lice have not been know to spread any disease. They lay their eggs (known as nits) on the base of our hair strands, close to the scalp. The eggs are somewhat greyish in color and are oval in shape.
Adult head lice: they are about 2.1 to 3.3 mm in length (photo credit: CDC)


How does one get infested with lice?
We get infested with lice when our hair gets in contact with someone who has head lice, a direct head to head contact. We can also get  head lice when we share personal items (combs, brushes, hair care instruments, towels, pillows, head coverings, hair scarfs, and caps) with someone who has lice.
Head lice do not have wings and so they cannot fly. They do not jump either but crawl or move fast when in our hair.

How does one not get head lice? (myths about head lice)
The center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that lice infestation is not as a result of uncleanliness (source). Furthermore, Minnesota Department of Health has reported that cats, dogs and other pets cannot spread lice. 


Who can get Head lice?

Anyone can get head lice. Since it is spread through a direct hair to hair contact, children can get it from:
  • Day care
  • nursery school
  • elementary school
  • camps
  • play grounds
  • slumber parties and any other gathering where children play with each other. 
. Family members and care givers of children who have lice may likely get lice too.

What are the signs of head lice infestation and How can you identify Head Lice?
The best diagnosis of head lice infestation is done by finding live adult louse or seeing live nymphs (young louse) on the scalp or hair of the person.
Some people may experience persistent itching of their scalp. Most of the times, head lice can be identified by looking for the eggs (nits) in our hair. Using a magnifying glass can help in distinguishing the nits from dandruff and residues from hair care products. The nits of lice will stick to the hair while dandruff and other residues will easily fall off. 

Head lice can also be seen on the scalp although they move quickly. They are about the size of sesame seed and are tan to greyish white in color.

people can identify lice infestation by reporting a tickling feeling in the hair or sensing that something is moving in their hair.

Treatment
If you suspect that you or your family is infested with lice, call go to the hospital immediately. If children are discovered with lice, the authorities of the school or other gatherings should be informed so that a control checkup can be done and everyone treated.
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will usually prescribe medication for the treatment for lice infestation.. There also exist over the counter medication for the treatment of lice infestation. 




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