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Kuto Alert! What Causes Head Lice in Adults? Find Out Here

Kuto Alert! What Causes Head Lice in Adults? Find Out Here

What causes head lice in adults?

What causes head lice in adults? It caused by pediculus humanus capitis – better known as the head louse. Head lice are small, strawberry seed sized, greyish insects that feed on the blood from the human scalp. They may also leave behind nits, or their eggs and remains of eggs. Head lice are more common in children around 3-11 years old and cases tend to fall off as people get older. This is because of how head lice are transmitted.

A person with a head lice infestation isn’t immediately someone who is unhygienic or living in an unhygienic environment. Pets aren’t the culprit either since they can’t actually transmit this disease. What causes head lice in adults or children, is direct or indirect human contact.

How head lice spread

Head lice can be transmitted either directly, through prolonged contact with someone who already has it, or through sharing articles of clothing like hats, scarves, and the like. Since children, 3-11 years old have a tendency of grouping up be it for schoolwork, playtime, family gatherings, or whatever other reason, they get and transmit head lice far more easily.

What causes head lice in adults? Head lice may be transmitted to adults through contact with children. Since children are prone to head lice because of prolonged contact with many other kids, it adults coming into contact with these same kids are more likely to catch lice. People that are regularly in close proximity with multiple kids for a prolonged period of time such as parents, nannies, and teachers are the most likely to catch head lice.

How to Remove Head Lice Permanently

Symptoms of head lice

Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for are:

Tickling feeling

While head lice are very small and move very fast, you can still feel them. People who have head lice might feel a slight tickling sensation as the head lice move through the hair of the host.

Itching

People who have a head lice infestation will oftentimes feel itching on the scalp, ears, and neck. This is caused by an allergy to the bites of the head lice.

Eggs or nits

Head lice take 6-9 days to hatch but only the eggs at around 4mm of the scalp will hatch while the rest are duds. Whole eggs, and pieces of the eggs may be found in the hair.

Nymphs

These are ‘baby’ head lice. They look like the adults but much smaller at around 1-1.5mm.

Grown head lice

These are the fully developed form of the head lice.

How to get rid of head lice

Once you’re sure that you or someone you know has head lice, treat them immediately because a head lice infestation can quickly worsen and spread to other people if left untreated. Head lice can lay 10 eggs a day, with nymphs reaching adulthood in around 2 weeks. This cycle can repeat every 3 weeks without treatment.

But while head lice may be uncomfortable, they don’t actually carry any bad bacteria or disease that can harm their host. Head lice are an inconvenience at best and are fairly easy to get rid of. Some of the things you can do to get rid of or prevent head lice are:

  • Seek the signs – If you suspect that you or someone you know has head lice, you can look for the signs such as itchiness, nits, and the actual insects in the hair by carefully combing through small sections of your hair and inspecting the comb after each pass.
  • Nip in the bud – Although you can do a quick check for lice, seeking professional confirmation from your doctor is still the most surefire way to know. Once sure, immediately treat it with whatever medicine your doctor prescribes.

Treatment and prevention

Medication

Treatment can come in different forms and may be used in tandem for greater effect. Some medicines you may use are:

  • Permethrin Lotion – This can be bought without a prescription. This kills lice but not eggs. It can be used by children 2 months or older.
  • Pyrethrin-based products – This usually comes in the form of a shampoo or hair mousse. It can be bought without a prescription and can be used by children 2 years and up.
  • Malathion lotion – A prescription is needed to acquire this. It kills both lice and eggs, and can be used by children 6 years or older.
  • Benzyl alcohol lotion – A prescription is needed to acquire this. It kills lice but not eggs. It can be used by children 6 months or older
  • Spinosad topical suspension – A prescription is needed to acquire this. It kills lice and eggs. It can be used by children 6 months or older.
  • Ivermectin lotion – This can be bought without a prescription. It kills lice but not eggs.

Social distancing

While treatments for head lice are highly effective, what causes head lice in adults is also preventable.

Since head lice spreads through human contact, actively distancing yourself from someone who has it can greatly reduce the risk of getting head lice.

Keep it to yourself

If you or someone you know has a head lice infestation, avoid sharing or borrowing articles of clothing as this can also spread the head lice.

Key takeaway

Although head lice are bothersome and can spread quite quickly, don’t worry too much as they aren’t carriers of disease and can be treated very easily. Just remember to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

Learn more about Infections from Insects here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

NO PANIC GUIDE TO HEAD LICE TREATMENT, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/no-panic-guide-to-head-lice-treatment

Accessed January 4, 2021

HEAD LICE: WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Signs-of-Lice.aspx

Accessed January 4, 2021

HEAD LICE, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/head-lice/symptoms-causes/syc-20356180

Accessed January 4, 2021

HEAD LICE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION (FAQS), https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html

Accessed January 4, 2021

HEAD LICE ALSO CALLED: PEDICULOSIS, https://medlineplus.gov/headlice.html

Accessed January 4, 2021

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Written by Kip Soliva Updated May 20
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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