The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. Lice (the plural of “louse”) are crawling insects and, as such, they cannot jump, hop, or fly. Head lice are tiny insects 2-3mm long that feed on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp.
Lice are a very common problem, especially for kids. They’re contagious, annoying, and sometimes tough to get rid of. According to healthychildren.org, each year millions of children get head lice. There is a small chance that head lice will spread because of sharing items such as combs, brushes and hats.
While they’re frustrating to deal with, lice aren’t dangerous. They don’t spread disease, although their bites can make a child’s scalp itchy and irritated, and scratching can lead to infection.
Lice usually survive less than a day if not on a person’s scalp. Lice lay and attach their eggs to hair close to the scalp. The eggs and their shell casings are called nits. After the eggs hatch, the empty nits remain attached to the hair shaft. Head lice live about 28 days. They can multiply quickly, laying up to 10 eggs a day. The cycle can repeat itself every 3 weeks.
The most common symptom of head lice is itching. It may take up to 4 weeks after lice get on the scalp for the itching to begin. Most of the itching happens behind the ears or at the back of the neck.
There are several medicines used to treat lice, both over the counter and prescription. OTC medicines are a good first choice. Failures may occur if hair is not also meticulously combed to remove as many lice and eggs as possible. If your child has lice, all household members and people with close contact should also be checked and treated if necessary. Here is a detailed list of head lice medicines that might help.
If your child has head lice and over the counter medicines aren’t working, give MacKoul Pediatrics Cape Coral a call at 239-573-2001 to speak with your pediatrician about possible courses of action.