Head lice are parasites found only on humans. They spend their entire lives on the scalp and are mostly common in children.
Head lice spend their entire life on the human scalp (30 days) and feed on blood, which they draw by biting the skin 4-5 times daily to feed (which usually causes itching).
Head lice differ in size according to age. Their length ranges from 0.5 mm to 3 mm. A louse has six legs and a pair of claws that grip the hair tightly. The color of lice can vary between grey, brown or red, so they are often difficult to notice.
Lice live close to the scalp, especially in the hair areas – behind the ears and the nape. They cannot jump, fly or swim, and infestation is usually caused through direct contact between heads, and is therefore the main reason why they are most common among children who share the same space.
During its lifetime, a louse lays about 10 eggs a day, usually in the area close to the hair base. As it lays the eggs, it secretes a sticky substance from the back part of its body, which binds the egg to the hair and makes it difficult to remove using a comb, shampoo and other treatments currently available on the market.
The egg is shiny, round in shape and yellow in color. Usually, a female lays its eggs in the nape area, about 3 mm from the scalp. After the eggs are laid, at the end of 7 days, the lice are hatched. After 10 days they reach adulthood and start laying eggs as well.
Lice cannot jump or fly as one would think. They are spread by personal contact or the sharing of combs, brushes, towels, clothing and bedding.
The main sign is itching and scratching. When lice lay their eggs, they inject saliva into the blood to prevent clotting. This saliva causes the itching and sometimes causes small bumps and soars on the scalp. The itching usually begins after 8 weeks of infection.
Lice are very resistant and have developed a strong immunity to most treatments found on the market today. Lice and eggs that endure these treatments continue to multiply on a child’s head, even if the parent has completed both the treatment and the combing. The problem is repeated when children go to kindergarten or school and come into contact with the heads of children who have not been treated thoroughly. This is why we often see the recurrence of the problem after a few days, even following treatment. To ensure the prevention of lice infestation, it is recommended to use only products that have been shown to be effective in preventing head lice and to be used once a week.