If your kids are having fun now that the school year is over, even pesky critters like head lice rejoice during summer break. For one, there is the heat and humidity. Second, summer camps and beach outings are aplenty. These are the exact environment head lice love.
A female louse (singular, adult) only needs one mating in her lifetime to produce all of its eggs? It can lay three to five eggs a day, and that makes 90 t0 120 eggs per month.
Head lice (plural) are tiny blood-sucking parasites. They live in human hair and feed off the blood from the scalp. They also thrive on the neck and ears of a person. These parasites are contagious. An individual could get lice when his head touches an infected person’s head. The lice also crawl onto other’s head through sharing of combs, headphones and even hats. These parasites can even survive for a time on upholstered furniture, pillows, towels, and clothing. Pretty scary, right? More facts about head lice and how are they treated as PSST.Ph shares 15 things about them.
Important Facts about Head Lice
Size and color
A louse is no larger than a sesame seed, while a nit (louse egg) is about the size of a small flake of dandruff. Once born, a louse is almost clear in color, but turns to brownish red after it feasted on human blood. A female louse, however, is a little bigger than the male one.
Movement and transfer
Head lice move by crawling. They cannot jump nor fly from one head to another. They transfer through direct contact with the hair of the affected person.
They spread through the sharing of personal belongings like brushes, hair clips, hats, towels and the like. The spread of head lice through pillows, beddings and even clothing is also possible if one places his head in those items used by an infested person.
At risk for head lice
Elementary school kids are at greater risk getting head lice. This is because they are inclined to play more closely together and even share items that may get in contact with their heads.
A female louse lays three to five eggs a day. The eggs hatch in seven to 10 days. It takes another seven to 10 day for the louse to mature and lay its own eggs.
Nits need to be hatched close to a person’s scalp as they need human warmth to incubate. They cannot technically survive longer than 24 hours off the head. This means then that a nit will die if not nearby a human as it requires immediate blood meat. However, a healthy adult louse can survive for closely three days without blood meat.
Head lice live on a human host for nearly 30 days. It is interesting to know that female louse has a special saliva that has a strong glue-like quality. This saliva is strong enough that cements the eggs to the hair near the scalp. This makes the nits not to easily fall out of the host.
Survival of lice and transmission through water
Transmission of lice while swimming is most likely not possible. When lice are in the water, they go into suspended animation but remain firmly locked onto the hair. This is the same way they do to survive shower, rain, and seawater.
Elimination of lice through insecticide
Head lice are human parasites and are not environmental pest. Spraying insecticide and other home cleaning spray are futile efforts. The safest way to remove lice or fallen hair with attached nits from upholstered furniture and rugs is vacuuming.
Human and not animals
Head lice prey on humans only. Again, they are human parasites and require human blood to survive. Animals are immune from these pesky critters.
More female than male
Research and studies show that women are inclined to get head lice more than men.
African American are spared
Oddly, African Americans are less likely to get head lice than Asian Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics. Pediatric Dermatology refers to many studies of the lower incidence of head lice among African Americans.
Origin of head lice
According to research, dried up head lice and nits were found on the hair and scalp of Egyptian mummies. This confirms the report that lice have been spreading among humans for thousands of years. Assumptions include that these parasites came from another species and evolved to live on humans only over time.
Symptoms of head lice
Head lice suck human blood which causes itchy feeling. A person with lice experiences a prickling feeling of something moving on his head. Sometimes there are red bumps on his head, too.
Treating head lice
There are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription head lice treatments. A few brands have chemical pesticides or insecticides that may pose harm or reaction to the user. Other brands only contain natural essential oils leaving no harsh fumes and chemicals that would come in contact with the user’s sensitive scalp or hands. You may check Euky Bear’s Blitz Nitz products to treat head lice.
Lice prevention at home
Head lice are contagious. When head lice are detected, all family members should be treated. Also, it is advisable that family members do not share towels, pillows, hairbrushes and even hats.
Lice prevention outside home
It is difficult to stop the spread of lice in school or places where you frequent. Even with good hygiene practices, you may still get lice. A possible way to prevent these parasites crawling onto your hair is avoiding head to head contact with others. It is prudent as well not to share combs and other personal belongings even with friends. Resting the head on couches and sofas is also a careful choice you need to consider.
Head lice and summer vacation
Again, head lice love summer as much as your kids do. Cliché as it may yet it still holds true and effective – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now that you have gathered here a few facts about head lice, may you not take these for granted. Many aren’t aware their kids have lice and even them got those pesky critters on their head. Others, though, remain silent, perhaps of social stigma and the long-term consequences. They are afraid that though the lice infestation has been cleared up, the stigma as a family with lice still remains.
Nonetheless, let us not allow head lice to ruin our summer vacation or our kids’ and our life. Zap those nits ASAP.