Head lice are parasites. Like all parasites, they find a host that they will need for sustenance. Not only do they live at the expense of the host, but they raise their offspring within the host. Like the name suggests, head lice thrive on the human head. They can sometimes be found on eyebrows and eyelashes, but they usually take root on the scalp. They feed on blood from the top of the head. The bites will eventually cause itching, in turn causing the infected party to scratch the bitten area. The above introduction is just a small sample of head lice facts that people should know. More important facts include what they look like and how to remove them or prevent infestation.
Anybody who says that a head louse is small is making a gross understatement. It can be as big as three millimeters and would necessitate a microscope to see it in detail. Its life cycle is short, lasting about a month. During that time, an adult female will lay up to eight eggs a day. The egg, known as a nit, is laid close to the scalp. It attaches itself tightly to a shaft of hair and waits about seven days. After that time, a nymph emerges. While the egg is left on the hair follicle, the baby louse lands on the scalp. About ten days later, it will shed its skin a couple of times and become an adult. Throughout its life, it will feed, breed, and produce offspring. A generation of lice can number in the hundreds, and they live on the human head for life.
Children of preschool and kindergarten age are the most susceptible to infestations. A child usually gets lice from direct contact with a friend or playmate at the playground, classroom, or school bus. Adults do not engage in the same school-age activities of their children, so they are less likely to become infected. However, they can get lice through clothes, combs, bedding, and other infected furniture. An infestation can cause irritation on the scalp and constant scratching could lead to a bacterial infection.
Head lice facts are unnerving, but treatment is mercifully familiar. Peliculides, creams specifically made to remove lice, should be applied according to the instructions. In between treatments, the lice and nits can be removed using a nit comb. Preventing infestation is as simple as not sharing someone else’s personal effects and cleaning household items that come in contact with the human head.