Hair is an important part of our appearance. A healthy scalp means healthy hair. Maintaining a healthy scalp is therefore an essential part of good looking hair. (See also Dandruff)
Head lice are tiny, wingless insects about the size of a sesame seed.They have six legs with claws and they can attach themselves to hair, changing their colour from light brown to grey for camouflage. They can live on your head, feeding off blood under the scalp. While head lice cannot fly or jump, they can spread via head-to-head contact or sharing hats, brushes or other items that have come in contact with an infestation. Head lice eggs (or nits) are white, oval, pin-head sized eggs that attach to the hair and hatch between 6-10 days, making head lice infestation an ongoing problem. Head lice lay their eggs on the hair shaft around 1.5cm from the scalp.
Each louse can live for approximately five weeks, but during that lifetime a female can lay up to one hundred and twenty eggs. The head lice life cycle lasts between 32 and 35 days, during which the adult lice mate, lay eggs, and die off. The new lice then continue through this 32 to 35 day cycle unless it is treated and the cycle is broken.
A patient with head lice needs to be treated in order to prevent spreading of the disease. Head lice do not go away without treatment, however treating head lice is a relatively quick and easy process. While an initial application of a head lice treatment may kill all the lice present, some of the eggs can remain and nymphs can hatch a few days later to perpetuate the cycle.
To help kill all the head lice and break the life cycle, it is essential that an infestation is treated three times, each seven days apart to break the life cycle and fix the problem properly.
Advice for the Patient
To kill head lice outright it is strongly recommended that application take place on dry hair. Head lice breathe through holes on the side of their bodies. They will react to a soaking of water by shutting down their breathing system, sometimes for hours at a time. Applying a product after soaking them with water may reduce the efficacy of the product.
It is essential that each patient strictly follow the manufacturer. All other members of the family should also be inspected for head lice.
Do not share hats, towels, pillows and brushes.