At Ford’s Hometown Services, we often get walk-in’s with insects to be identified. This is a service we provide free of charge. This little pest was brought in today for identification. Under a microscopic camera, it didn’t take long to identify the pest as head lice. It surprised me that my coworker Donna knew so much about them. As it turns out as a hairdresser she was trained how to recognize signs of an infestation. Head lice are not something a pest control company will need to spray for because it is the host that needs treatment. It is best to consult a physician or pharmacist for treatment recommendations. I also learned from Donna that head lice prefer clean hair over hair that may have styling products in it. I learn something new every day.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Head lice infect hair on the head. Tiny eggs on the hair look like flakes of dandruff. However, instead of flaking off the scalp, they stay put.
Head lice can live up to 30 days on a human. Their eggs can live for more than 2 weeks.
Head lice spread easily, particularly among school children. Head lice are more common in close, overcrowded living conditions.
You can get head lice if you:
- Come in close contact with a person who has lice
- Touch the clothing or bedding of someone who has lice
- Share hats, towels, brushes, or combs of someone who has had lice
Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status.
Having head lice causes intense itching, but does not lead to serious medical problems. Unlike body lice, head lice never carry or spread diseases.
Symptoms of head lice include:
- Intense itching of the scalp
- Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders (bumps may become crusty and ooze)
- Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.