A louse is a small parasitic insect that is usually found in human hair. The wingless parasite derives its food from the human body by piercing the skin, resulting in itching for the host. The insect is easily spread through contact and is more likely in public places. They can be found on the head, the pubic hair and the body.
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After lice infestation, many people tend to develop an allergic reaction to the bites causing itching. The severity of itching varies from one person to the other depending on the skin and history. Some of the symptoms tend to take weeks and even months to be noticed especially during a first-time case. Subsequent infestations develop symptoms faster as the body has already developed sensitivity to the bites. Other lice symptoms are category specific which include:
- Pubic lice: itching in the armpits, anus, eyelashes and bruises on the thighs, torso, and upper arms.
- Body lice: frequent scratch, gray marks on the body and eggs on the clothing
- Head lice: colored eggs on the hair, recurrent scratch and swollen lymph nodes of the ears.
Lice are external parasites that are spread through contact with the infected people. Crowded places such as schools, social and political gatherings form some of the avenues that one may get infected. There are three categories of lice classified depending on the part of the body that they tend to occupy. They include:
- Head lice: this group tends to infest the head and hence found in between the hair. They are transmitted through sharing personal equipment and gear such as hats, headphones, earphones, helmets, combs, brushes, and beddings.
- Body lice: these are found in the waist, armpits and torso, and other body parts where the clothes are in tight contact with the body. They can be spread through sharing clothing and body contact.
- Pubic lice: the category is spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Their eggs can also be transmitted via towels and clothing.
With many children attending day care centers and kindergartens, the risk of infestation is increased owing to playful nature of the children. They tend to play while exchanging personal effects. Head lice and body lice are the most common in children as they are spread through contact.
Treatment cannot be done without a proper diagnosis that can be done in a clinic or at home. The doctor may use a microscope to ascertain the presence of lice or their eggs in a visual examination. When doing it at home, one needs to:
- Wet the hair of the infected person
- Look at the hair through bright light
- Detach the hair into sections while checking for eggs
Over the years, lice have been a common problem in most regions with children being the most affected lot. Identifying the parasite and eliminating them is vital for a person’s health. Traditional insecticides were found effective in combating their spread and hence used to control. However, the insects frequently manifested resistance against the insecticides making them ineffective.
The treatments have since been replaced by oil-based and silicone therapies that are more physical than insecticides. Wet combing is a treatment method where the infected uses a customized comb to remove the organisms. Washing the hair thoroughly with a lice shampoo allows the comb to move freely and remove any lice. The procedure should repeatedly be done at three days intervals up to five times.