Head lice have been a problem that people have had to deal with for centuries, with historians tracing back Pediculus humanus ( human head lice ) to around 107,000 years ago. In 1,200 BC it was recorded that the Chinese used mercury and arsenic to treat the infestation, whilst Egyptians resorted to shaving every other day. Throughout history physicians have tried numerous remedies of plants and chemicals to try and eradicate these pests.1
Numerous myths have sprung up over the years, many contradicting themselves and being of no benfit to the sufferer. Lice prefer long hair, so a short haircut will keep them away is one suggestion, but as lice live close to the scalp hairstyles don’t affect them. Another is lice prefer clean hair, or dirty hair, but they will cling to any type of hair, regardless of cleanliness.
In most cases, itching is the main symptom of head lice. It is not caused by the lice biting the scalp but by an allergy to the lice. However, not everyone experiences itching, so if you are advised by your child’s school, or other parents, that there is a problem, wet combing is the best way of finding head lice.
These unpleasant creatures are exceptionally tenacious, so it is important to know how and where to look for them. Wet combing has a detection accuracy rating of 91% and needs to be done regularly if you have any concerns. Check behind ears, under fringes, at the crown of the head and the nape of the neck for any signs. Use a detection comb and work methodically over the head, wiping the comb on paper should you find any lice. Removing adult lice will stop the breeding cycle, although regular checks should be made to ensure your child hasn’t been re-infected.
Consult your pharmacist for more information on dealing with head lice.
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