Does your child frequently scratch his scalp? Beware, he could have head lice!! One of the most common problems faced by school children in tropical countries is that of head lice. Almost every child, more so in those with long hair, encounters this problem at one time or another. This is not to say that adults are spared!
Head lice are very small parasitic insects that live on the human scalp and in the hair. They are more commonly found on young children than adults. They are generally brownish in color but may appear to be reddish brown after a blood meal. Yes, these creatures suck blood from the scalp, one of the richest areas of blood supply in the human body!
An adult female louse lays 3-5 nits (egg casings) per day which are attached so strongly to hair shafts that only fingernails or a specially designed comb will remove them (normal brushing or washing won’t get it!). The nits are laid on hair shafts very close to the scalp (for moisture and warmth). After a week or so they hatch and mature after an additional week or two. These are then capable of laying ‘Nits’ and the process begins again.
Head lice can be extremely irritating as they cause:
The possibility of secondary infections.
Redness or small bite marks (like mosquito bites) on the scalp.
Very rarely, a secondary infection might result in swollen glands in the neck or under the arms.
In addition lice also cause embarrassment both to the child as well as the parent when the child is reprimanded in school for being unhygienic. Actually, personal hygiene has very little role to play in this matter. Head Lice spread by a direct head–to–head contact, or by sharing items such as combs, brushes, scarves, caps, headphones, or sports helmets. They can also be transferred via jackets, stuffed toys, upholstered seats, common beds as in hotels etc.
If someone in your family has lice, do the following:
Check each family members hair.
Use anti–lice medication (also called “Pedicullicide”).
Physically remove as many nits (and lice) as possible.
Identify the source of the lice e.g. coats, beds etc.
You could also try out a few of the home remedies for lice like applying paste of neem leaves on the scalp before washing the hair.
Here's to a clean, healthy scalp and glorious hair!!
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