Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis as it’s known medically, is an obligate ectoparasite of humans. By definition they are wingless insects that spend their entire lives on the human scalp and feed exclusively on human blood. It kind of goes without saying, but preventing and getting rid of lice if you do get them should be a pretty big concern to people. It’s unknown exactly how many people get head lice each year in the United States; however, an estimated six million to 12 million infestations occur each year among children three to 11 years of age in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although they do not necessarily pose an immediate, serious healthcare threat they can have detrimental effects nonetheless. Proper head lice removal is thus very important and should be taken seriously. There are even professional lice removal services you can go to. These are the three main reasons to seek lice removal as soon as possible.
- Itchiness: An itchy scalp is one of the first red flags of head lice. Still, even this can take awhile for a person to notice. A person has to be bitten at least 10,000 times by lice before the sensitization process that causes itching begins. This doesn?t happen until a person has been infested for at least four weeks. Besides being annoying, incessant itching can cause the next item on this list to show up even sooner.
- Sores and Scabs: They look and feel just as bad as they sound too. Blister-like scabs and sores can develop on a person’s scalp if lice treatment is not administered in a timely manner. The itching described above only makes this worse by making your head raw. Not only can these be embarrassing to look at, but they can be quite painful.
- Prevent Infection: One of the worst things that can happen to a person with head lice is breaking the skin from scratching the itching your lice and subsequent sores. This can ultimately lead to infection, which can come in virtually any form depending on what bacteria you might be in close contact with at the time. This is when head lice can get particularly dangerous and needs to be avoided at all costs.
The one good thing about lice is that once you clean it up from the person or people who have it you don’t have to worry about it sticking around the house for days or weeks. Adult lice will die after 24 hours or so on non-human surfaces such as carpets, hardwood flooring, clothing, furniture, sports helmets, headphones, or hair accessories. For these reason, and general good hygiene, seek professional lice removal at the first sign of an invasion.