Head lice do not discriminate between gender, age, or ethnicity. The problem of head lice affects adults and children of all ages and from all ethnicities. However, it is noted that head lice are much more common among children. In fact, in certain places, it is estimated that at least one in three children get head lice some time during the year.
The common louse (singular for lice), which is scientifically known as pediculus humanus capitis, is a small insect which only lives on human hair. It feeds off of the blood from the scalp in order to survive. There are at least three thousand different species of lice, but only a handful of them affect humans.
Fortunately, lice can not be passed on from animal hair to human hair. They are only transmitted from one person to another. However, that does not mean animals do not have lice. Animals also face this problem, but the species of lice which affects an animal can not harm humans.
For example, there is a type of louse that lives on dogs only. This type of louse can affect other dogs when they come in close contact with each other. However, regardless of how close you come to these dogs, their lice will not transfer over to your hair. Therefore, being in contact with animals that have lice does not mean that you will catch them.
Moreover, louse is an insect with very limited abilities. It can not fly, swim, or even jump. It can only crawl from one person’s hair to the next which makes it heavily reliable upon close head-to-head contact in order to affect a person. In addition to these limitations, its very existence depends on living on a person’s head. If it is removed from a person’s head, it has a maximum of forty eight hours before it dies.
Let’s take a brief look at the three stages of development of lice:
1. Nits: When lice lay eggs on a person’s hair, those eggs are called nits. Nits are often mistaken for dandruff due to their miniscule size.
2. Nymphs: Nymphs are newly hatched lice. They remain as nymphs for about twelve days before they are fully grown.
3. Lice: Once nymphs have grown fully and become adults, they are then officially known as lice. Their average lifespan is thirty days and during this time they lay eggs (nits) which continues the cycle.
If you are suffering from head lice, here are some helpful tips for combating them:
- Use a very fine-toothed comb to comb out lice and nits.
- Avoid sharing any items worn on the head and neck. These include caps, scarves, hair ties, and hair pins.
- Use hot water to wash all clothing, bedding, combs, etc. This kills of lice because they can not live for more than half a minute in water temperature exceeding 60° C (140° F).
- Wash your hair with hot water, then use a hair dryer with the heat setting on high. This will help in eliminating lice, as well.
- Having a visual inspection performed on your hair by another person at least once a week can also help. In the process, the person can comb the hair meticulously and examine the hair to make sure the lice have not returned.
Share this post