Pediculus humanus capitis (species of louse that infects man) is a scientific name for head louse.
Head louse is a parasitic insect that lives in human hair and scalp. To survive, these parasites need human blood.
Head louse infestation occurs in people throughout the world.
Almost six-to-twelve million people get head lice every year and is a very common condition that is mostly seen in children aging three-to-ten.
Head louse can be found in three forms, which are nit, nymph, and adult.
Nit is the ovum of the head louse, which is attached to the human hair with the layer of chitin. They are yellow-to-white in color with oval shape.
Nymph is the next stage of nit. Nit hatches into nymph in one week. They resemble adults in many aspects, but with the lack of genitalia development. It will take one week for nymphs to develop into adults.
Adult louse sizes about sesame seed with six legs. It is dark-to-grayish white in color. This can live up to thirty days. In order to live, adult lice would feed on human blood. If head louse falls from the head, it can survive for about two days.
Head louse can spread easily from one person to another person by direct contact with hair, head, clothes, and some personal belongings. You may get head louse infestation by using the comb that was used by the infested person or by lying on the same bed, couch, or pillow of infested person.
Having the nits close to the scalp proves that the person is infested. The common symptom from infestation of the head louse is itching, mostly around the ears and neck. However, some people do not feel itchy.
One can diagnose the head lice by close looking through the hair and scalp to remove and kill all live lice (by manual picking or using louse comb). By combing or manual picking, you can also remove the nits from the head.
You can find and remove nits easily, but nymphs and adults are hard to get as they escape quickly from the searching fingers.
Washing the head with hair soaps, head lice killing shampoos, or crème rinses can remove some of the active lice. Manual nit picking should be involved along with those, as chemicals were never proved to be successful in nit killing.
One of the effective treatment options in removing head louse is smothering, but you should know how and when to apply smothering agent. Olive oil, smothering agent, has been proved to be effective in killing head louse. At the same time, olive oil has some allergic properties.
Be aware that the head louse cannot transmit infectious diseases like AIDS [Cure for AIDS] from one person to another. Also, you should know that using pediculicides only could not be effective 100% in removing head louse.
Do not misdiagnose by treating yourself before making sure that you or your child has head lice. Go to the health care provider for appropriate diagnosis if you are not sure that you have head lice.