Table of Contents
Most parents at one time or another have received that letter from school informing them that the dreaded head lice has made an appearance in their child’s classroom. The thought of tiny insects infiltrating the class and making their way into the scalps of dozens of children is enough to send many parents into full blown panic mode. No parent wants to heat that tiny insects are living in their child’s scalp, but they are a very common problem and occur quite often in children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old.
Head lice are tiny insects that live in the human scalp and hair shaft. They latch onto the scalp and draw tiny amount of blood that they feed off of. Unlike mosquitos and certain other insects, head lice do not carry or spread diseases and they are not dangerous. When the lice bite the scalp, it often results in itching and discomfort and can cause mild swelling and inflammation. As the child scratches the scalp to relieve the itch, it can lead to additional irritation of the skin and sometimes an infection can develop. Just because a child presents with an itchy scalp does not mean that she has head lice. Although an itchy scalp is the most common symptom of lice, there are other conditions that can cause itchy scalp, such as dry skin or dandruff. Additionally, some children who do have lice will not experience itching of the scalp.
Head lice are wingless insects, so contrary to popular belief, they cannot fly from one person to another. Not only are they incapable of flying, they are also unable to jump.
It is a myth that head lice are more common in people with unwashed or dirty hair. They do not thrive in cluttered homes and people with head lice are not any more likely to have poor hygiene than people who do not have head lice. Simply washing your hair is not enough to get rid of head lice, and keeping your hair clean is not enough to prevent head lice from getting onto your scalp. Head lice cling to hair follicles and the lice eggs , or nits, will cling to hair that is both dirty and clean.