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Lice Infestation
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Head lice are the parasitic insects. They are found most commonly behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck. The medical term for head lice infestation is pediculus humans capitis.

There are 6-12 millions cases of head lice observed in the United States every year. It is more commonly found in children than adults. Head lice infestation is found to be too much psychologically disturbing. But head lice are not found to promote any healthy hazard and does not cause spread of any disease. Head lice infestations are very rarely seen in African Americans. It is because the louse prefers as specific hair shape and width.

Causes of Lice Infestation

The life cycle of head louse has three stages that are the nit, nymph and adult. The life cycle of a single louse from egg to egg is about on month. In the nit stage, the head lice lays eggs.

Nit’s are laid by the adult female louse and are attached to the base of the hair shaft by strong cement. They are located close to the scalp because they require body heat for incubation. Nits are yellow to white in colour; they take near about 6-9 days to hatch.

They are oval in shape and are located within 6mm of the scalp. In the nymph stage, an egg hatches and releases a nymph. The nit shell stays attached to the hair and turns a dull yellow colour. The nymph looks like an adult louse but is smaller. As the nymph grows, it molts out of its exoskeleton three times before it becomes an adult.

Nymph is generally about the size of a pinhead. It is of same shape as the adult louse. It is located close to the scalp and the nymph becomes adults after about 7 days. The adult louse feeds about 5 times a day by piercing.

The skin with its claws, injecting irritating saliva and sucking blood. Lice do not become enlarged like ticks, but their colour changes to a rust colour after feeding. Head lice hold onto the hair with hook like claws found at the end of each of their 6 legs. Adult lice are active and can travel quickly.

Symptoms of Lice Infestation

Scalp itching is a common symptom of head lice. There is a sensation of something is a sensation of something moving in the hair. Red or pustular sores on the scalp are caused due to scratching.

Swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of the neck may be seen. Head lice can be spread by direct contact with the head or hair of an infested person. The adult louse can survive upto 1-2 days without feeding on the scalp.

Therefore, it can be found on objects that have been in contact with an infested person. Examples of objects that commonly spread head lice are like clothing such as hats, searves, coats and sports uniforms. Hair care instruments such as combs, brushes or towels may also lead to spread of lice infestation. Other objects such as pillows, beds, carpet and stuffed animals may also lead to the transmission of lice Infestation.

Treatment of Lice Infestation

Medications that kill head lice are called pediculicides. All pedicuicides except Malathion are applied to the scalp and hair and left on for 10 minutes, then rinsed off. Pediculicides kill nymph and adult lice, but do not destroy nits. Due to this, it may be needed to reapply 7-10 days after the first application to kill newly emerged nymphs.

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