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Symptoms of Head Lice

Symptoms of Head Lice

Head lice infestation is very common, especially among school children. Go through this article for some information regarding symptoms of head lice infestation, which is also known as pediculosis.
Sonia Nair
Head lice are tiny, wingless, blood-sucking parasitic insects that inhabit the scalp of human beings. In some rare cases, these insects can be found in facial hair too. The head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) feed on the blood of humans. When detected in large numbers, in a particular person's scalp, the condition is called pediculosis or head lice infestation. This condition is mainly seen in school children, especially girls. According to statistics, around six to twelve million children under the age of 11, are affected every year with head lice infestation, in the United States.

What are the Symptoms of Head Lice Infestation?

Head lice spread through close contact with the infested person. Sharing personal items, like hairbrush, hat, pillow, towel, bed, etc., is a common cause. Once you get head lice, you may not experience any symptom for the first two, three months. The most common symptom is an itchy scalp. Such itching is not caused by their bites, but is an allergic reaction to their saliva, which is injected, as they bite the scalp for sucking blood. Some people may develop itching, even if they have heavy lice infestation. This is because, they are not allergic to lice.

Lice infestation may also cause red and pustular sores. Normally, these sores are harmless, but may become sites for bacterial infections. Such sores are caused by excessive scratching of the scalp. A crawling sensation on the scalp is another symptom that is caused by the moving lice. This can lead to irritability too. Presence of lice, nits, or nymphs in the hair, is a sure sign of head lice infestation. Some people may develop a rash on the back of the neck, as a reaction to lice droppings. Some of the severe cases of pediculosis may be characterized by hair fall and darkening of some areas of the scalp, which are infested with lice. It has been observed that no serious side effect is caused by head lice infestation, and these insects do not spread any disease.

You can get rid of these blood-sucking parasitic insects, using medicated shampoos. You can also resort to home remedies. Avoid close contact with people infested with head lice. Avoid sharing personal items with others, especially those with lice on their scalp. Treatment or remedial measures must be started, as soon as you notice the symptoms. Above all, proper hair care should be a part of your daily routine, in order to ward off head lice infestation.

Head Lice Life Cycle

These wingless insects, which cannot jump or fly, undergo three stages during their life cycle. They are the nits, nymphs, and adults. Nits refer to their eggs, that are found attached to the hair near the scalp, with a strong, cement-like substance. Some people mistake these nits for flakes of dandruff. The nymphs are the young ones, which resemble the adults, but are small. They transform to adults within a timespan of seven days. Adult lice have six legs, with claws that help them to hold on to the hair. An adult louse can live up to 30 days, and an adult female can lay up to eight nits in a single day. These adults feed on human blood at least five times a day, and inject saliva during the process, to prevent blood clotting. Head lice are mostly seen behind the ear and near the neck of the infested person.