What is a head louse?
The head louse, also called Pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect. Each year, more than 100 million people are infested with lice. This infestation is called pediculosis. Head lice are lodged in the scalp of humans, because they find all the comfort of an ideal habitat: high temperature, humidity and food. They feed by biting into the scalp of their host to remove blood.
This creates the itchiness and small red marks left on the skull. Without a blood meal, the louse can only survive one or two days.
Why are we caught?
Lice are easily transmitted from one head to another either through direct contact between two people or through an object: hat, cap, comb, hair brush, bedding, etc. They spread more easily in daycares or schools because children are often close to each other.
Lice do not jump and do not fly. To move from one head to another, they must be able to grip on a new hair shaft, hence the need for proximity. Head lice, unlike other types of lice, are in no way due to a person’s hygiene.
How do you recognize a louse?
It is possible to discover the presence of a louse during all the different phases of his life: slow, nymph and adult louse.
Slow : Slow is actually the egg of the head louse. White or yellowish in color and oval, it is quite difficult to spot, mainly on a blonde hair. Indeed, it is often taken for a film. The slow usually takes 5 to 10 days to hatch and is firmly attached to the hair.
Nymph : The nymph stage lasts about 7 days. During this period, lice look the same as adults, but are a little smaller. Like adult lice, nymphs must feed on blood to reach full size and survive.
Adult : The adult louse is brown and therefore very difficult to see. It is from 1 to 2.5 mm long. In addition, the female is usually larger than the male. She can lay 200 to 300 eggs during her lifetime. In the presence of a human, an adult louse can live up to 30 or 40 days.
What are the signs of the presence of lice?
The best indicator of the presence of lice is the constant itching of the scalp. On the other hand, it is possible that no discomfort is felt. In other cases, symptoms may appear only one to two weeks after infestation, ie the incubation time of nits. Another sign is the presence of nits that will be easily visible on dark hair.
Do not get me wrong, it may not be simple dandruff. Sometimes a small lesion can be seen where there is a new bite, but it is more difficult in a scalp.
How to check that there is indeed presence of lice?
It is necessary first to inspect the various places where the lice prefer to lodge, that is to say the nape, the back of the ears and the top of the head. Then, the easiest way to validate that there is presence of lice is to use a very fine comb designed for this purpose. The latter makes it possible to remove the eggs from the hair stems. This type of comb is available in pharmacies and drugstores.
How do we stop head lice?
Once the presence of lice on the head has been confirmed, apply a shampoo, lotion or cream that usually contains pesticides. However, it is possible to find some that do not contain it. Efficiency varies from one product to another and the thoroughness deployed during the application. In some cases, more than one treatment will be needed to completely eliminate the lice. After each application, make sure lice, nymphs and nits have all been destroyed. To do this, we use again the fine comb by passing it carefully on each strand of hair.
Then all the articles that could harbor lice: bedding, clothes, head accessories, hairbrush, etc. must be cleaned with very hot water, dry or packed in hermetically sealed bags for a minimum of 10 days. We must also sweep the carpet, dust furniture, clean the car seats, etc. Thus, we make sure to eliminate all species remaining alive.
Can infestations of head lice be prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment to permanently stop head lice infestation. By cons, it is possible to adopt behaviors that minimize the risk of having a hair invaded by these unwanted insects. For example, we avoid exchanging clothes, caps, hats and headphones. We attach our hair to prevent lice can easily hang on them. Finally, one does not hesitate to frequently examine his head or that of his child, especially when there is an epidemic.