Head Lice – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Posted on Feb 27, 2017 2017-10-04T13:38:49+00:00 0 Uncategorized Emergency Medical Care
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Head lice can be quite an obnoxious problem for any parent (or person in general), so what can be done to avoid them? How are lice spread and how are they treated? We plan to answer some of your frequently asked questions.

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice, medically known as Pediculus humanus capitis, are parasites that thrive on the human scalp, but can also be found on the eyelashes or eyebrows and behind the ears. A lice infection is called pediculosis.

How Are They Spread?

Lice are spread inter-personally by contact, or less commonly, by sharing items like toys, brushes or clothing. They are common among small children who are often in close contact with one another, especially in school or daycare environments. If you’ve come in contact with someone who has lice or contaminated items such as a book bag, you can become infested. Lice are not carriers of other disease. Head lice do not infest pets, only humans.

What Do Lice Look Like?

Lice eggs, or ‘nits’, are often mistaken for dandruff because they are only small white dots, but when the lice grow into adults, they are much easier to spot. They are a few millimeters in length and can be spotted fairly easily with the naked eye. Adult lice have 6 legs and travel using their legs and claws.

Could Someone Wearing a Wig Catch Lice?

Lice require human blood to survive longer than matter of hours, so lice could not survive on a wig for long, as they would be unable to access the scalp for feeding.

What Are the Symptoms of Lice?

Signs you or your child may have lice include: discomfort and difficulty in the night, itching or extreme itching, a tickling feeling in the hair, sores or welts caused by scratching.

How Are Lice Detected?

Doctors often use a magnifying glass and fine-toothed comb to diagnose lice, as they can be difficult to find sometimes.

Can You Catch Lice in Swimming Pools?

It is possible to catch lice in swimming pools as they can survive underwater for a few hours, and surprisingly, aren’t even killed off by chemical treatments in swimming pools.

How Many Children Get Lice Annually?

There are up to 12 million lice infestations annually in the United States among young children alone.

What Treatment is Available for Lice?

There are effective lice treatments on the market, but you should check with your doctor before using them on small children as they may be weight-dosage requirements. Some people believe mayonnaise can smother and kill lice. While it may work in some cases, the claim has not been empirically supported.

Do You Need to Fumigate After a Lice Infestation?

It is not necessary to fumigate after a lice infestation, simply clean the house very thoroughly and seal contaminated items in plastic bags for a week or 2, and washing in hot water will kill lice and nits on clothing. While they are not a serious medical condition, lice are a very bothersome one and would be best avoided. Thanks for visiting EMC!