Head Lice

Nothing will give a parent the shivers than the idea that their child might be exposed or, worst yet, exposed to head lice. There is something creepy about the idea of insects crawling around in your child's hair. The medical name for head lice is pediculus humanus capitis but that doesn’t reduce the "creepy" factor of knowing that your youngster may have them crawling around in his or her scalp.

As is true of any fear, its helpful to know some facts about head lice because when you understand an enemy, you know what you are up against. Probably the most important fact is that head lice are not dangerous and pose no threat of infection or disease to your child if they become infected. Most infections are at a fairly small scale to such an extent that often the host of head lice has no idea they are there. There are very tiny so without special light and the use of magnification equipment, you will never be able to tell they are there. And because active lice travel from hair to hair, it is likely your child will never know they were in his or her hair as well.

Head lice eggs are called nits and they are laid by the female lice at the junction of a hair and the scalp because that is where the warmth of the body can keep the eggs secure. But the eggs are not bound to the scalp. They are bound to the hair and if they rise up from the scalp as the hair grows, they will not be able to hatch. Far fewer nits exist in an infected individuals scalp than mature lice that hatch out. And because the nits are very small and adhere to the sides of each individual hair, they could grow out and get cut off at the hair stylist or barber without you ever knowing they were there.

If you do want to perform an inspection for head lice on your child, you will need a bright light and a powerful magnifying glass to be able to see them. Even at that, because there are thousands of hairs on your child's hair, it is possible you will miss a small infection of lice because they hide so well in the vast forest of a human scalp full of hair. The give away that there are lice present will be if you do detect movement as you perform your inspection.

The treatment for head lice are fairly simple and usually just calls for the use of a potent shampoo to wash them away. This system will not remove all of the nits because they are usually firmly attached to the scalp but it will remove any hatched out lice from the scalp. And since the gestation period for lice is about two weeks, if you just keep up the treatment for that long, you usually can eliminate lice entirely from your child's hair and with it remove the "creepy" factor from thinking about whether your youngster has head lice or not.

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