How can something this easy to catch be this hard to get rid of?
What are head lice?
Head lice are blood-sucking insects that can live in the hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. They can’t reproduce without the warmth of the human head, nor can they survive without the blood provided by the scalp. They are about the size of a sesame seed, and while they can crawl, they can’t jump or fly. Head lice should not be confused with body lice or crab lice. They are found only on humans and not on dogs, cats, or other pets.
What are the symptoms of head lice?
Infestation is defined as harboring any nits, nymphs, or adult head lice. Excessive scratching of the head is often the first obvious sign of head lice infestation. Many people who have head lice never experience itching! Lice eggs, usually called nits, are found by close examination of the hair. Actual lice are seen infrequently as they move quickly through the hair. In cases of severe infestation, head lice may also infest the eyebrows and eyelashes. The scalp may appear red, and have oozing, crusting or tender areas due to scratching. These inflamed areas can lead to secondary bacterial infections such as impetigo. Impetigo may be caused by Staphylococcus or by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Impetigo infections may become serious if not treated promptly. Head lice have not been associated with the transmission of any communicable disease.
How are head lice spread?
Lice are spread through direct or indirect contact with infested objects or people. When combs or brushes are shared, lice can be transported from one head to another. This is also true for the sharing of hats and other personal items, or clothing that is used or worn on the head.
As long as lice or their eggs are living, they can be moved from person to person and cause infestation.
How soon after exposure to lice would an infestation be noticed?
It might take two to three weeks to notice the itching associated with infestation, but nits can be seen before the itching begins. Nits look like white or dark ovals, and are most noticeable on the back of the neck and around the ears at the very base of the hair shaft (close to the scalp).
How long do head lice live in your environment?
Head lice can only survive for a few hours off a human host. Without feeding, adult lice will die in under 48 hours.