Head lice, pediculus humanus capitis, are essentially parasites that infest our scalp. Head lice are small, wingless insects that live, breed and feed on the human scalp. Since they are wingless creatures, head lice cannot fly or jump from head to head. People get head lice from direct head-to-head contact while playing, cuddling or working closely together. Lice infestations are also known as pediculosis. Although lice infestations are a common occurrence, is the problem is more commonly found in children.
Lice Treatment: For effective removal of head lice, lice treatment is recommended for people diagnosed with an active infestation. Immediate action is required as lice can be transmitted effortlessly from one person to another. Anyone who comes in close contact with someone with a lice infestation is at risk of picking up head lice. Contamination of personal items like infested combs, brushes, towels and clothing could also spread head lice. Lying on the same bed or couch or using a pillow that belongs to an affected person may result in lice infestation.
Lice are highly contagious and spread from one person to another quickly in group settings. The signs and symptoms of head lice include:
Head lice infestation can be diagnosed by taking a closer look at the hair and scalp of the affected person. It may be hard to find lice even if you look for them as they tend to scurry away from prying fingers. However, nits (lice eggs) can be found in clusters close to the scalp confirming a lice infestation. The itching and irritation one experiences is in reaction to the saliva of lice, and scratching the scalp will only worsen the problem as it could result in raw, broken skin and sores. This increases the risk of complications as there is a higher possibility of secondary infection to the site of bruising and lesions. which may further lead to an infection.
As mentioned earlier, an infestation of the parasite pediculus humanus capitis causes what we commonly refer to as a head lice problem. An individual is at risk of contracting head lice if there is
Lice are also common in cases where proper personal hygiene is not maintained.
Head lice are widespread among school-aged kids, and it is important to act immediately to control the spreading of lice. There are two ways in which you can tackle head lice: treatment can be administered through the use of commercially available medicated shampoos and hair products or you can use home and natural remedies to treat lice.
Chemical treatment involves the use of over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. Chemical treatment for lice destroys the lice and the nits. It may however take a few days before the itching stops. Oral medication also helps to kill resistant lice. OTC medications that are approved by FDA for lice treatment contain one of the following active ingredients:
Further, the FDA approves the following medications for lice treatment, albeit they are obtainable only by prescription.
It is best to consult a dermatologist before buying any medication for treatment, especially when using them on younger children. Some of the chemicals used for the treatment may be harsh and cause damage to the scalp and hair.
Apart from medication, heres what else you need to do to ensure that the lice do not return.
Natural remedies are preferred over chemical treatment when the infected person is too young to receive strong medications. Some of the popular natural remedies to get rid of lice include:
There is no natural treatment that kills lice eggs (nits) completely. Hence, removal of lice and nits is an important part of the lice treatment procedure. Using a lice and nits removal shampoo followed by lice combs to pull lice and nits off wet hair helps to get rid of head lice.
No specific diet can alter or affect lice. However, a healthy diet consisting of high fiber foods, a balanced intake of all food groups, and drinking adequate water (six to eight glasses a day) helps to keep the scalp and body hydrated and healthy. Foods rich in vitamin C help to treat lesions and red bumps that may be caused as a result of lice infestation because of scratching.
There is no approved pediculicide that is completely ovicidal, hence retreatment of head lice is usually recommended. One has to undergo retreatment after all eggs have hatched, but before new eggs are produced.
As per the statement of The American Academy of Pediatrics, treatment for head lice should be initiated only when there is a clear diagnosis of head lice as all treatments have some potential side effects. So, one should consult their health care provider, school nurse, or dermatologist if unsure about a head lice infestation.
Head lice treatments may not be suitable for pregnant women, breast feeding women, and babies less than 12 months old. People having allergies, open wounds on the scalp, and people suffering from asthma should consult their physician before undergoing head lice treatment. Maintaining personal hygiene is the best way to prevent a lice infestation.