The commonly called “head lice” (Pediculus Humanus Capitis) are insects that live on the human scalp and hair.
These insects have a size of 1 to 2 millimetres. They have six legs which end in little claws (used to be seized to the hair, chest, abdomen) and a small head with a buccal apparatus prepared for puncture (sting) followed by blood suction.
These parasites change from nymphas or larvae to adult lice in three weeks; they live around 30 days and during this period each female can lay 200 eggs or nits.
The most frequent symptom of this parasitosis is the itching in the nape and behind the ears; this is because when the louse stings it eliminates a toxin before sucking the blood.
Transmission takes place when someone is in contact with an infected person or the infected person’s personal objects like a comb, a brush, clothes, the pillow, etc.
Nowadays some mothers and teachers have turned into experts in diagnosing this frequent parasitosis. However, here there are some guidelines for those who want to know.
Have good light to search for lice in the child’s head (natural light if possible).
¨Check the hair very carefully, tuft by tuft.
The nits are like little pearl-colour inverted cones, very attached to the hair (less than a centimetre distant from the root), a task done by the female louse with a chitinous substance (hard).
Treatment (decided by your personal doctor).
The purpose of the treatment is to kill both the adult lice and their breed (eggs and larvae).
- To kill the lice use almost non-toxic pediculicides like 1% pyrethrins (lotion and shampoo) and shampoo based on 1% lindane. Ask your pediatrician about the name of products.
- To get rid of nits, first you have to soften the layer which covers them with white vinegar, then, you can use a special comb. If a nit is still attached you can cut that hair. After the treatment check that there are no nits attached to the eyelashes (reservoir). If there are, ask your pediatrician for treatment.
- Remember to dispose of the lice that remain in the personal objects. Dip combs, brushes, etc., in boiling water for 10 minutes or wash them using the same shampoo or lotion used in the head. Wash bed-clothes in hot water (50º C) for at least 5 minutes.
- Many pediatricians recommend repeating the treatment seven days later but ask your doctor about this.
Apart from normal hygiene, we have to create a habitat which the louse dislikes in order to decrease the probability of re-infection, one in which lice cannot dwell or reproduce.