Head lice are one of the most common types of infections occurring throughout the United States. Caused by a parasitic insect known as pediculus capitas, head lice typically affect your scalp and the back of the neck. These lice attach to the hair shafts using hook-like claws, and feed off of blood from your scalp. Lice can be quite uncomfortable, causing intense itching; they are also highly contagious to those around you. If you are experiencing symptoms of head lice, it is important to look for effective lice treatment.
How Do You Get Lice?
It is relatively easy to contract lice from someone who is infected. The main mode of transmission is direct, head-to-head contact; however you can also get lice from sharing:
- infected towels or bedding
- infected clothing
- infected combs and other hair accessories
Hair lice can spread very quickly, particularly amongst large groups of people.
Who's At Risk for Lice?
Anyone who comes into direct contact with an infected person is at risk for contracting head lice. However, head lice are more common amongst females and children between the ages of three and twelve. Lice are also more common in crowded facilities, including hospitals, military barracks, child care facilities, and schools.
Symptoms of Lice
It is generally fairly easy to tell if you are infected with head lice. Symptoms include:
- intense itching of the scalp and neck.
- the presence of head lice nits (eggs) on hair follicles.
- sensation of something crawling on your scalp.
- the presence of live adult or baby lice on the head (Lice are about the size of a sesame seed and tend to look tan or dark brown in color. They have six legs and are usually noticeable upon parting the hair, or around the hairline).
- the development of red sores or blisters on the scalp or neck.
Getting rid of head lice can be challenging, but it is essential to find a head lice cure that works. Prolonged infestation can irritate the scalp and put others at risk of infection. Treatment generally involves over-the-counter or prescription shampoos or rinses. These work to kill lice on the scalp. It is important to follow the directions on the lice removal shampoo correctly though, as they can burn the skin if you apply it incorrectly. You may need to use the shampoo again, seven to ten days later, to ensure that all lice are gone.
In order to prevent reinfection, it is imperative that you kill lice eggs and other lice that may be around your home. Be sure to:
- wash all of your clothing, bedding, and towels in very hot water.
- vacuum your carpets and upholstered furniture (including your car seats).
- soak hair accessories in medicated shampoo or rubbing alcohol for at least one hour.