Its that time of year again. the kids go back to school, and bring home some unwanted visitors!

  • First-we start with, Head lice are a very common problem, second only to the common cold among communicable diseases affecting schoolchildren. Head lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from your scalp.
  • Getting head lice isn't a sign of bad personal hygiene or an unclean living environment. This itchy infestation, also called pediculosis capitis, most commonly spreads through close personal contact and by sharing personal belongings.
  • Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat head lice. Following the directions properly and taking necessary steps at home are important to prevent head lice from recurring.

So, what are the Symptoms of head lice infestation: Common signs and symptoms of head lice may include:

  • Intense itching. An allergic reaction to the saliva that lice inject during feeding may result in itchy red bumps on your scalp, neck and shoulders. Some people, particularly if this is their first infestation, don't experience itching.
  • Adult lice on scalp. The most common spots to find adult lice are behind your ears and along the back of your neck. Lice are tiny, about the size of a strawberry seed, but they can be up to 1/8 inch (3 millimeters) in size.
  • Lice eggs (nits) on hair shafts. Nits resemble tiny pussy willow buds. Nits can be mistaken for dandruff, but unlike dandruff, they can't be easily brushed out of hair.

Causes

Head lice can't fly or jump, and they're not transmitted by pets. They spread by head-to-head contact or via contact with contaminated personal belongings or home furnishings.

  • Head-to-head contact
  • This is the most common mode of transmission and may occur as children or family members play or interact closely together.
  • Sharing personal items

Less commonly, head lice may be transmitted via such items as:

  • Caps, hats and scarves
  • Brushes and combs
  • Hair decorations
  • Headphones
  • Home furnishings

Head lice may sometimes be contracted by contact with contaminated:

  • Towels
  • Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Upholstered furniture 

Risk factors

  • The greatest risk factor for getting head lice is coming into contact with someone who already has lice. Cleanliness and personal hygiene have little bearing on whether you get lice.
  • Young children, from creche through to primary school, are most prone to infestation, which often transfers to a child's family members. Females of all ages get head lice more often than males do.

Unwanted symptoms:

  • Lice may cause you to scratch your head so vigorously that you break the skin. See your doctor if these scratches become infected.

Diagnosis

  • Lice cement their eggs very firmly onto the base of hair shafts, very close to the scalp. According to experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nits found more than a quarter inch (6.5 millimeters) away from the scalp have either already hatched or aren't going to hatch. So simply finding nits isn't proof of an active infestation. The clearest sign is finding a living, moving louse. Combing wet hair with a fine-toothed comb is the best way to find this evidence.
  • The only way to be certain that you or your child has head lice is to find a live louse.
  • Spotting head lice in hair can be very difficult, so it's best to try to comb them out with a detection comb.
  • Detection combs are special fine-toothed plastic combs that you can buy from us at lynchs pharmacy. A comb with flat-faced teeth and a tooth spacing of 0.2-0.3mm is best.

Detection combing can be carried out on dry or wet hair. Dry combing takes less time, but wet combing is more accurate because washing with conditioner stops head lice moving.

Wet detection combing: To use the wet detection method:

  • Wash the hair with ordinary shampoo and apply plenty of conditioner.
  • Use an ordinary, wide-toothed comb to straighten and untangle the hair.
  • Once the comb moves freely through the hair without dragging, switch to the louse detection comb.
  • Make sure the teeth of the comb slot into the hair at the roots, with the edge of the teeth lightly touching the scalp.
  • Draw the comb down from the roots to the ends of the hair with every stroke, and check the comb for lice each time – remove lice by wiping the comb with tissue paper or rinsing it.
  • Work through the hair, section by section, so that the whole head of hair is combed through.
  • Do this at least twice to help ensure you haven't missed any areas and continue until you find no more lice.

If you find head lice, you should check the rest of your family. Treat everyone found to have head lice on the same day.

Dry detection combing: To use the dry detection method:

  • Use an ordinary, wide-toothed comb to straighten and untangle the hair.
  • Once the comb moves freely through the hair without dragging, switch to the louse detection comb.
  • Make sure the teeth of the comb slot into the hair at the roots, with the edge of the teeth lightly touching the scalp.
  • Draw the comb down from the crown to the ends of the hair with every stroke.
  • Look for lice as the comb is drawn through the hair. If you see a louse, trap it against the face of the comb with your thumb to stop if being repelled by static electricity.
  • Comb each section of hair three or four times before moving on to the next section, until the whole head has been combed through.

If you find head lice, you should check the rest of your family. Treat everyone found to have head lice on the same day.

For Treatments and preventative options, contact me through our live pharmacist or call into lynchs pharmacy in douglas.

References:

http://www.medicinenet.com/head_lice/article.htm

https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/H/Head-lice/

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/head-lice.html

http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?con=23

http://www.hedrin.ie

Share This Post: