Lice, symptoms and most common natural and pharmaceutical remedies. The pediatrician explains how to recognize hair lice and what to do
THE lice they are one of the most feared nightmares by mothers of school-age children. Lice they are wingless insects and unable to jump. They manage to move from one person to another only in case of direct contact between the heads that lasts at least a few seconds. Lice transmission occurs by direct contact with people already infested or through the exchange of clothing or personal effects, such as pillows, hats, scarves or combs. Head lice, outside the human body, cannot live long. Here’s everything you need to know about head lice and pediculosis and remedies to delete them.
In this article
Head lice and pediculosis
Pediculosis is a very common infestation caused by lice, small greyish-white parasites that live only on humans and suck their blood. They are small in size (from one to three millimeters) and lay the eggs attaching them to the hair shaft or hair, on which they move easily thanks to the hooks placed on the legs. The most affected by pediculosis are children preschool and school age (3-11 years), (peaking at age 9), and their families, because they have more opportunities for close contact.
Girls are more affected than boys, probably because of the long hair. Infestation is extremely common in childhood communities, especially in schools, where it affects 5 to 22% of children, regardless of social status.
Head lice symptoms
The infestation manifests itself with irritation and intense itching in the area affected by the infection, which in turn causes dermatitis, impetigo and other similar affections due to staphylococci.
- The characteristic symptom of pediculosis is the itch, which is due to an irritative-allergic reaction to the enzymes in the louse’s saliva. It is important to underline that this reaction takes days or weeks to manifest itself, so when the itching occurs, the infestation is already old, it may be at an advanced stage and moreover it may already have been the cause of transmission to another individual.
- Superficial injuries from scratching can result impetigo of the scalp and inflammation of the lymph glands behind the ears and in the back of the neck.
A thorough inspection of the scalp is sufficient to discover the infestation and location of eggs, which are usually found attached to the hair at the nape of the neck and around the ears, and eggs, which are attached to the root of the hair, where the temperature conditions and humidity are more conducive to hatching. The nits, which remain attached to the hair, follow the growth of the latter by rising to the surface.
By measuring the distance that separates the nits from the scalp, it is possible to roughly calculate how long the infestation has been going on, given that human hair grows about 1 cm per month. While there is no close correlation between hair length and lice infestation, short hair facilitates the treatment of pediculosis.
Hair lice how to recognize them
If you suspect the presence of lice, it is necessary to carry out a careful check of the head, in conditions of good lighting and a magnifying glass. Especially in the areas behind the ears and on the nape of the neck you can find nits stuck tenaciously at the base of the hair, the more difficult it is to be able to see the adult insects. Epidemics, particularly in schools, are frequent. Complications (secondary impetigo and furunculosis with cervical adenopathy) are not uncommon.
How to recognize them in your hair?
- The adult louse, visible to the naked eye, is 1-3mm long, it is gray in color and has hooked limbs that allow it to stick firmly to the hair. The louse completes its entire life cycle on the parasitized person’s head in 1-2 months.
- The female produces 5-10 eggs per day, called nits, for a total of about 300, laid tightly attached to the hair about one centimeter from the scalp, because the temperature close to 37 ° C is optimal for maturation.
Lice and eggs
The nits have a teardrop shape, with a maximum diameter of one millimeter, are light in color, have a pine nut shape and are about 1 mm long. The females of the head louse deposit their eggs at the root of the hair thanks to a sort of very resistant glue. Lice eggs mature and hatch in 7 days. From them comes the young insect, called nymph, which begins to feed on the host’s blood and matures in a week, becoming able to lay new eggs.
Every 4-6 hours, to feed, the louse places its mouth against the host’s skin, from which a tubular structure emerges that penetrates through the skin and secretes an anticoagulant and vasodilating substance that facilitates blood suction. The louse does not survive without feeding and away from the host it dies in 1-2 days. Nits, on the other hand, are much more resistant and can survive in the environment for up to 10 days. Over the course of a month they can lay 80 to 300 eggs on the host.
In general, the prevention of pediculosis is done by teaching the good hygiene practices, suggesting that they avoid sharing combs, brushes, hats, toys, scarves, and clothing. Personal hygiene, including the regular change of clothes, therefore prevents and fights lice infestation, also because most of the infestations in our country occur as single cases or related to small groups of people.
The ideal conditions for …