Warning: Before you read this – we dare you NOT TO SCRATCH your head before the end!
What Are Lice?
Head lice (singular is “louse”) are a common health condition, especially in children. Symptoms of head lice include the visible detection of white matter in the hair as well as itching and a tingling or tickling sensation of the scalp. These stubborn parasites may be difficult to remove from the hair and can be quite contagious.
Who does Head Lice affect?
While there is no definitive data on exactly how many kids get head lice each year, it is estimated that 6 million to 12 million cases of head lice are diagnosed each year in children ages 3 to 11. This is because young children tend to play closely together and are more likely to share blankets and other personal items.Pre-schoolers and elementary school-aged children are the most widespread population to get head lice. This statistic does not take into account adult sufferers of head lice. Other family members of infected children often contract head lice too.
Some Myths about Head Lice
People tend to be afraid of head lice – and of children who may be infested by head lice. But, these fears are based on myths and other bits of incorrect information. For instance, many people believe that head lice can fly or jump, but head lice never have wings and they are unable to jump.
Children with head lice are often thought of as ‘dirty’, or that they must live in unclean homes. In reality, head lice can occur on kids and adults whether they bathe daily or far less often, and regardless of how often or well the home is cleaned.
An itchy scalp is often thought of as a symptom of head lice, but everyone’s scalp itches every day – whether or not head lice are present. So, if you have an itchy scalp, look for head lice and verify the identity of any creature you find to be sure it is, in fact, a head louse.
The life cycle of a louse begins as an egg, also called a nit. The nit is a 1mm whitish-yellow speck that attaches itself firmly to an individual hair strand close to the scalp. After 7 to 10 days, the nit hatches and becomes what is known as a nymph, or a young louse. Nymphs are usually between 1.1 and 1.3 mm in size and tan or white in color. Nymphs mature into adult head lice within a couple of weeks. Mature adults do not tend to grow larger than 2mm. Female lice are larger than males.
Life Span on Humans
Immediately after lice eggs hatch, the young louse (nymphs) need food. Using their claws to crawl from the hair shafts to the scalp, young adult and mature lice feed on the host’s blood multiple times throughout the day. As long as there is a food source readily available, an adult louse can live for as long as 30 days on a human. However, this short lifespan is perpetuated by the constant laying of eggs. Female lice lay up to six eggs each day.
Life Span Without Food
Nits, or lice eggs, cannot live without a human host. They need the warmth of the scalp for incubation purposes before they hatch. Once they have hatched, they need the nourishment they get from human blood. Nits that are dislodged from a hair shaft will most likely die before they hatch.
Young lice and fully mature adults can survive for only about a day without a food source. Adult lice cannot live past 24 hours or so on non-human surfaces such as carpets, hardwood flooring, clothing, furniture, bedding, sports helmets, headphones, or hair accessories.
Lice have six claws that are designed to grasp and hold onto a single hair shaft. They also use their claws to crawl down toward the scalp when it is time to feed. Head lice cannot fly, hop, or swim. However, lice that are in water such as a bathtub or swimming pool are still tightly attached to the hair, and can survive for a few hours. If the insects fall off their host into the water, they will die because they become separated from their food source.
Is it Head Lice or Dandruff?
Dandruff typically affects people who are older than the preschool set. Dandruff is most prevalent in adolescents and young adults, but older adults and small children can also experience a flaky scalp.
Symptoms of Dandruff versus Head Lice
Head lice and dandruff can cause symptoms in some people, while others do not feel a thing. Itching is the most common symptom associated with both conditions. Lice feed on human blood and stay close to the scalp. The insects’ saliva is irritating, causing the scalp to itch. Some people might also feel the sensation that something is moving around in their hair.
Dandruff can itch if your scalp is very dry. The most visible sign of both lice and dandruff is the presence of white specks in your hair. Dandruff is easy to comb out. Lice eggs or nits attach themselves firmly on the hair shaft and are more difficult to remove.
Treating Your Hair and Home
Head lice do not live very long without a human host, but can transfer from one person to another easily through close—especially head-to-head—personal contact. It is important to treat lice immediately and thoroughly to avoid spreading an infestation.
Medicated shampoos are designed to kill adult lice and nits. Vacuuming carpets and upholstered furniture prevents lice from crawling onto a new host before they die. Wash bedding, clothing, and washable toys such as stuffed animals in hot water. Tumble dry on high heat for at least 20 minutes to kill lice.
Do Not Worry!
Getting rid of a case of head lice can be time-consuming and tedious, but it is not a health hazard. Lice do not carry disease and do not harm the head or scalp.
Prevent head lice by not sharing combs, hairbrushes, hair accessories, towels, bedding, hats, or scarves with a person infected with the parasite. Anti Lice Angel is the natural solution to head lice prevention and is a very simple remedy for protection against head lice!