Biggest head lice ever.
Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis, is a tiny wingless parasitic insect that lives on the head of humans and feeds on their blood. They could also be found around and behind the ears, near the neckline, and rarely on the eyelashes and eyebrows. Having a head lice infestation is not often a sign of poor hygiene, as it is easily contagious, a simple thing such as head-to-head contact with someone who is infested can get you infested too.
Lice infestation is more common in children than it is in adults. Statistics show that an estimated number of 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children of 3-11 years. Head lice are not dangerous and are not known to spread diseases, however, they can cause a lot of discomforts. A major symptom of head lice infestation is itching. Head lice differ in size depending on their stages in their lifecycle. In this article, you’ll learn about their different sizes and all you need to know about head lice, the infestation, and how they can be treated.
HOW DOES HEAD LICE SPREAD?
We have already stated that head lice can be contracted easily by having head-to-head contact with someone who is already infested. This could happen during a school play, at home, at a playground, during sports activity, or even during a camping activity. This is the major way head lice can spread.
There are other uncommon ways head lice could spread, such as:
Sharing personal belongings such as combs, scarves, hats, hair pins, or ribbons with an infested person, because sometimes lice could attach themselves to shed hair, so when these things are shared, head lice could easily spread.
Nevertheless, this depends on how long the louse has lived outside its host. Without blood meals head lice die within 1-2 days outside of its host, it is however better safe than sorry. Lying on the bed, couch, pillow, or carpet that has been recently used by an infested person. Lice do not spread through your pets.
WHAT DO HEAD LICE LOOK LIKE?
Head lice have 6 legs and they are usually greyish-white or tan, although they can easily camouflage to blend with your natural hair’s color. Generally, they are the size of a sesame seed, however, depending on their stage in their life cycle, they can appear smaller.
Head lice have 3 stages in their life cycle:
The nits are lice eggs laid by the adult female head louse at the base of the hair, very close to the scalp, where they can get warmth. These are oval-shaped and sometimes take the color of the hair of the infested person, but when seen closely, they are often yellow or white. It is difficult to distinguish them from naked eyes due to their tiny nature, and they are sometimes mistaken for dandruff flakes due to their similar whitish appearance.
While nits are the eggs of the head louse, when they hatch, the immature louse that comes out of the nit is called the nymph. The nymph looks a lot like the adult louse, although smaller, roughly the size of a pinhead. They go through a series of growth phases to mature completely into adult lice, which usually takes 9-12 days after hatching from the nit.
The adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed, about 2-3 mm in length, with 6 legs and a greyish-white appearance. The adult female louse is usually larger than the males and can lay about 6 eggs daily.
BIGGEST HEAD LICE EVER
Super lice’ are head lice that have evolved to become resistant to certain insecticide-based ingredients found in the traditional head lice treatments. Their name gives the assumption that they may be the biggest head lice ever, however, super lice look just the same as normal head lice. What makes them super is their ability to resist traditional lice treatment.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE A HEAD LICE INFESTATION
A very common symptom of a head lice infestation is an itchy head which is due to a local allergic reaction to lice bites.
Other symptoms you may notice are:
- A feeling of something moving or crawling on the head or through the hair.
- Difficulty sleeping because lice are most active in the dark, so there is increased itching and movement in the hair.
- A tickling sensation on the head
- Soreness/inflammation of the scalp due to itching which could get infected with bacteria found on the scalp.
HOW TO TREAT A HEAD LICE INFESTATION
When you discover you, your child, or any member of the family has a head lice infestation, you should seek immediate help to treat it. There are several available treatment options for a head lice infestation, you can use medicines called pediculicides, which are head lice killers. However, some treatments are not suitable for young children, so it is best to check with your doctor or local pharmacist before attempting any of these treatment options.
1. Wet Combing
There isn’t much research done on this, but a study showed that wet combing is a way of treating lice infestation, although does not kill lice, it is 50% effective in removing them from the hair. It is a relatively inexpensive method of treating head lice but requires more time as the treatment needs to be repeated on days 1, 5, 9, 13, and 17 following the discovery of the infestation, to be certain that everything, both the lice and their nits have been removed.
The process of wet combing involves:
- Shampoo the hair with your regular shampoo.
- Apply a reasonable and adequate amount of conditioner to soften the hair as you comb through it in tiny sections, using a special nit detecting comb.
- The longer and thicker the hair, the more time you should spend wet combing, after which you rinse off the hair.
2. Topical Treatment
This involves applying OTC lice treatment topically to the head, it may cause mild burning or irritation, but it is effective in treating lice infestation, however only live lice are taken care of with this treatment. The treatment is not so effective on the unhatched nits. If you wish to treat the infestation with an OTC lice treatment, it is important to follow the instructions on the medicine which may include the following:
- Wash the hair and dry with a towel to remove excess water
- Use a non-conditioning shampoo, as conditioner can create a barrier between the hair and treatment.
- Follow instructions on how long to leave the treatment on the hair
- Rinse off the hair over a sink instead of in the bath or shower to avoid causing any irritation on the rest of the skin.
- Use warm water, rather than hot water
- Afterward, use a nit comb to remove any dead or live lice as well as the eggs.
3. Use Of Prescription Medications
There are prescriptions only medications approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of head lice and they are the best and most effective for treating a super lice infestation. Always adhere to the instructions your doctor will give you when prescribing these medications, and if after a full course of treatment, you still have symptoms of lice infestation, contact your doctor.
- Benzyl alcohol lotion
- Ivermectin lotion
- Malathion lotion
- Topical suspension
- Lindane shampoo
4. Use Of Non-Pesticide Treatments
Non-pesticide treatments that contain isopropyl myristate or silicone oil such as Resultz and Dimethicone are used to treat head lice. Resultz kills the lice by dissolving their exoskeleton, causing them to lose water, become dehydrated and die, while dimethicone coats the lice thereby interfering with their ability to manage water.
5. Essential Oil
Essential oils such as tea tree oil are used as a home remedy to treat lice infestation, although it is not clear yet how these oils work.
HOW TO MANAGE HEAD LICE INFESTATION
You could limit the spread of head lice or even prevent a recurrence of an infestation by taking certain measures such as:
- Avoid sharing personal items such as hair accessories, clothing, or beddings that come in contact with the head of an infested person. For instance, when you notice a member of the family has the infestation until the person has been completely treated and free from the infestation, their hair accessories especially must be avoided by other members of the family.
- Vacuuming the floors and furniture on which people with head lice may shed hair.
- Wash all items of clothing or beddings that people have used in the last couple of days, in hot water above 128.3°F to kill the lice.
- After wet-combing, ensure to wash every material that came in contact with the hair in a hot wash.
There is no such thing as ‘the biggest head lice ever’ since every adult louse, both the super lice, are 2-3mm long, treatment may differ between the normal head lice and the super lice, but they are still of the same size.