Head Lice Facts: Transmission, Symptoms and Treatments

Published: 03rd October 2011
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Head lice lead to highly emotional reactions and it is not always easy to tell between misconceptions and facts. Here are some of the most important head lice facts about how they can be transmitted, what are the symptoms associated, and how to treat lice infestations properly.

Transmission of Head Lice

Lice do not fly or jump but they are excellent climbers and walkers thanks to their six legs. They are spread by direct contact between different people's hair. Coming very close to the head of someone who is infected with lice is therefore a great risk of infecting your own hair. This is why children are mostly affected by head lice, as they usually have close head-to-head contacts when they are playing.

Lice need human blood to survive, so they are only transmitted from a human to another human. It is impossible to catch lice from your pets; lice that live on pets belong to a different species. This is also why you should never treat head lice with your pets' shampoos; this would not be effective and moreover it could be very dangerous for your health.

You can catch head lice from personal belongings but this is rather rare, because if lice are away from a human body for about 48 hours they will die. If there is a hair with a lice on it on a scarf or a hat, you might catch it but only if it has been there for less than two days.

Anyone can get head lice, it has nothing to do with hygiene. You can still get lice even if you wash your hair regularly, as even clean hair can be infected.

Symptoms of Head Lice

The itchy scalp is the main symptom of an infection with lice and nits, and the itching may also continue for some time after the treatment.

But it is very important to know that there are not always symptoms associated with head lice. You can have lice even if there are no itching symptoms. Sometimes you will not scratch your head, as lice and nits do not necessarily cause itching.

Indeed, the itching is mainly caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva deposited by the lice at the root of the hair (during blood sucking), and this allergic reaction does not necessarily take place if the person is not sensitive to this saliva. You might as well have head lice and not know it, or itching symptoms can appear several weeks after you catch head lice.

Lice Treatments

Head lice treatments will be useful but you can't expect to get rid of lice by only using a treatment. Indeed it must always be associated with a thorough brushing of the hair with a lice comb, and you should do it over several days or weeks.

It is useless to treat persons in the household who are not infected with lice, so you should only treat those who are actually infected. Make sure every member of the family has its own comb, to reduce the risk of contagion.

You do not have to use chemical products to get rid of head lice. There are a lot of home remedies and natural treatments that have proven to work very well, some of them even scientifically.

Once you have a good understanding of what head lice are, what are the symptoms associated, and how you should treat them, you are armed to fight against these parasites and you are on your way to get rid of them once and for all.


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