Here is a phrase that I hear a lot around back to school time: “I am so ashamed, my child has lice!”. First of all, let me clarify one important fact: head lice infestation is not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Actually, outbreak of lice infestations usually appear at the beginning of the school year and these irritating pests are not particular: rich or poor, clean or dirty, we are all equals in their eyes..
Considered as parasites, lice are tiny insect that feed on human blood, just like mosquitoes do. They live on the skin, using their claws to cling on to the hair and they reproduce very quickly. Adult lice look like dandruffs or small rust-colored seeds. The eggs, also called “nits”, are glued to hair shafts and are a lot easier to see than lice, which are tiny and move very quickly. Nits are pearl-colored, tear-shaped and less than 1 mm long. They are mostly found around the ears and the nape of the neck.
Transmission of lice occur either directly (through contact with an infested individual) or indirectly (through the sharing of certain articles, such as hats, combs, brushes, earphones, pillows, stuffed toys or clothing). Lice do not jump, nor fly, nor live on any other creature except humans.
Since there are no preventive treatment, a good hair examination with a fine comb (distance between 2 teeth less than 0,3mm) is recommended before using any insecticide shampoos. When the infestation is confirmed, your local pharmacist will tell you what shampoo is appropriate as well as all the steps involved for it’s proper use. Finally, to prevent reinfestation, all indirect transmission vectors must be cleaned. Wash in hot water and dry in the dryer all clothing, hats, scarves, towels, etc. Soak in hot water for at least 10 minutes all combs, brushes, hair accessories, etc. Vacuum pillows, carpets, mattresses, stuffed animals, etc. Finally, all objects that cannot be cleaned by either of the former methods must be put in a closed garbage bag for 10 days.
In conclusion, whenever you have any questions or hesitations regarding a health problem, your local pharmacist is there to help you...