What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that infest and feed on blood from the scalp of their host. This infestation is common in children, especially those who are attending school. Female head lice lay eggs or nits (lisa) close to the scalp, where it is warm enough for the eggs to mature. These eggs or nits often look like dandruff since they can appear white or yellowish.
Head lice will continue to spread, regardless of the host’s personal hygiene, and they do not cause any serious health problems. However, a study has found a link between chronic heavy lice infestation and severe iron deficiency anemia. In the cases present in the study, the common causes of anemia (like heavy menstrual bleeding and pregnancy) were ruled out.
Signs and symptoms
The common signs and symptoms of a head lice infestation are:
Constant scratching or itching. The most common sign that someone might have a lice infestation is severe itching. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the bite of a head louse. If it’s your child’s first time to have head lice, symptoms might show up after 4 to 6 weeks of infestation. Your kid will constantly scratch his or her head, neck, nape, and ears.
The sensation of crawling or movement on the scalp. Children have head lice often they complain about something crawling on their scalps or in their hair. Head lice constantly move around to find new spots from where they can suck blood.
Sores or red bumps on the head, neck, nape, and ear. Persistent scratching can lead to sores and red bumps in the areas where head lice feed. An infection can occur if the sores and the head lice infestation are left untreated.
Difficulty sleeping. Head lice look for feeding spots and areas where they can lay their eggs at night. If your child has been finding it difficult to fall asleep, then he or she may have head lice.
Lice on the scalp and lice nits on the hair shaft. Lice may be difficult to spot at first because of their size. However, if the lice infestation grows, it will be easier for you to see the insects on your child’s scalp and hair strands. Lice eggs, on the other hand, are found at the base of the hair shaft just above the scalp. At the beginning, they can blend in with the color of your child’s hair but will lighten in color as they hatch.
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