What are Head Lice?
Definition of Head Lice: Tiny, wingless insects that live on the head and feed on blood from the scalp. Head lice cause intense itching, but aren't known to carry disease. An estimated 6 to 12 million head lice infestations affected children in the U.S. last year, according to the CDC. Below is a brief overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments, plus links to more information.
What Causes Head Lice? Head lice usually spreads by head-to-head contact. Head lice cannot fly or jump and must crawl to infect a new host. Sometimes head lice can spread by sharing personal items that touch the head such as hats, pillows, scarves, towels or hair brushes.
Are Head Lice Contagious? Yes.
Medical Term: Pediculosis capitis.
Signs & Symptoms: Itching, often intense, and bites that appear as small red sores on the head, neck and shoulders. Lice are hard to spot but nits, or lice eggs, can be spotted as white specks stuck stubbornly on hair near the scalp.
Treatment & Remedies: Use store-bought or prescription products designed to kill lice. Wash bedding, hair brushes and other items in close contact with lice in hot water (130 F) for five to 10 minutes. Dry laundry on high heat for at least 20 minutes. Seal un-washable personal items in airtight bags for two weeks.
- Sprays and fogs aren't necessary to stop lice from spreading in the home, according to the CDC.
- A good vacuum of floors and furniture will help keep lice from infesting family members.
- Lice live in three stages as nits, nymphs and finally as breeding adults.
- An adult louse is only 2 to 3 mm long, or about the size of a strawberry seed.
- A louse can only survive one to two days without a blood meals.
Sources and More Information:
- Head Lice: Details from MyHealthNewsDaily
- Related Information from the Mayo Clinic
- Related Information from the National Institutes of Health
- Related Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Statistics
- Related Information from the American Academy of Family Physicians
This information is not meant to provide specific medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. We recommend you consult a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and treatment advice, and call 9-1-1 in emergencies.
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