It is unfortunate, to say the least, that everyone can probably remember an outbreak of head lice within their family or school at some time in their lives. These creatures seem to survive over the generations no matter what we do on how to avoid lice.
It is usually in young children that head lice find their easiest victims. Because of the way that they play together, roughhousing and hugging each other, the lice can easily be spread from one host to another.
Even trying on hats in the classroom is enough to spread an outbreak far and wide. Because of this, when there is an outbreak, schools normally warn parents to take action all at the same time to eradicate the problem.
The life cycle of the head louse is such that it needs to bite the host to get blood which normally precedes the egg-laying process. The eggs, called nits, are laid one to one hair near the scalp and can be mistaken for dandruff to the unobservant.
Since they can also look like spots of hair products, many people miss them until the infestation is overwhelming.
Over her lifetime, the female louse will lay between eighty to a hundred eggs on the host head where they hatch and start feeding on the scalp.
This is what causes the itching sensation and normally disturbs people at night when they are trying to sleep. The nits pass through several ‘nymph’ stages which all require them to feed on fresh blood. This can take up to nine days to complete when the now-adult louse will start its own life of producing eggs and so on.
An adult louse normally lives for about three or four weeks before dying off so multiplying each by one hundred and then by another one hundred will show how infestations become a big problem in such a short space of time.
Of course, with all infestations, expert help is advised and in this case, that means a physician.
Although this kind of infestation is not life-threatening, it is extremely embarrassing for many and they may even not want to visit a pharmacist for shampoos which can eradicate the problem.
If a child has been found to have head lice, it is imperative that the whole family get treated at the same time to stop the spread.
Even pillows and bed linens have to be washed carefully, probably in high-temperature water, to make sure that a loose egg does not start the re-infestation.
Indeed, after the initial mass shampooing, it is advisable to do the same thing again after about ten days so that any eggs which survived the first get caught in the second one.
After this, some careful scrutiny is needed for a while to check that another outbreak does not occur.