Head Lice – Causes and Symptoms of Head Lice

Head lice are parasites that live on the head and hair of people. The infection with head lice is called as pediculosis. They are the tiny, wingless insects which feed on the blood of the person. They attach to the base of the hair and lay eggs. This is one of the common communicable diseases next to cold. On an average, one of ten individuals are affected with the head lice. Studies in US show that 6-12 million people are treated for head lice alone.

Head lice are harmless and do not spread diseases. They are not a sign of any bad hygiene or an unclean environment. The only problem they cause is that they create itching and scalp becomes irritating.

Causes of Head Lice

Children are more likely to get head lice than adults at least once in their lifetime. Head lice can affect any type of hair. They are generally spread through head to head contact or through contact with some home furnishings and personal belongings. The following are the causes of head lice.

Head-to-head contact: The most common way of spreading head lice. This may occur as a result of close interaction or playing among family members or school children.

Home furnishings: Head lice may also spread via contact with the following materials.

  • Furniture
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Clothing
  • Towels

Sharing personal items: Head lice are also spread through some items that are shared commonly among family members.

  • Headphones
  • Hair decorative items
  • Combs and brushes
  • Hats, caps and scarves

Symptoms of Head Lice

The signs and symptoms of head lice infestation are:

  • Intense itching on the scalp
  • Red sores on the scalp
  • Nits or eggs visible on the hair shafts often mistaken for dandruff
  • A tickled feeling on the scalp
  • Irritability
  • Neck may also bear the signs of head lice bites
  • Swelling of lymph nodes and fever are the rarer symptoms

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