Have you ever experienced head lice in your life? Chances are you, or someone you know, has. This is a very common problem that impacts millions of people each year. In particular, children are most likely to get head lice. The CDC estimates that 6-12 million infestations of head lice occur each year in the United States among children between the ages of 3 and 11.
Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis, are tiny parasitic insects that attach themselves to human hair. They feed off of tiny amounts of blood from your scalp. Spread mainly by head to head contact, children frequently become infested at school and may as a result spread it to other members of their family.
The head lice themselves are not a major health hazard and are also not a sign of poor hygiene. However, there are still some potential dangerous side effects of head lice. Here are some things to keep in mind should you or your child get head lice.
At first glance, itching does not seem like it would be a dangerous side effect. In fact, an itchy scalp is usually the first way that someone identifies that they have head lice. However, if you have an itchy scalp and end up scratching too intensely, it can lead to a wound that can potentially become infected. Again, as we said earlier, the head lice themselves are not a health hazard, but this side effect of scratching can turn into a more serious problem you will have to deal with.
If your child is complaining of an itchy scalp, or even if you simply notice them scratching their head more than usual, you should immediately inspect them for head lice. The sooner you can identify this problem, the easier and quicker you can eliminate the head lice and the nits (which is the term for the eggs that female head lice lay).
If your child, or any infested person, has severely scratched their head, be sure to monitor the wounds until they heal. The wounds have the potential to become infected from various bacteria that is regularly found on the head and scalp area.
One of the most dangerous and long term effects of head lice is the increasing resistance that they have to popular treatments. These treatments contain certain insecticides and pesticides that kill the head lice. However, over time, these treatments are becoming less effective at killing the head lice. In fact, research conducted in 2015 proved that at least half of the United States (25 states) are areas where head lice is majorly resistant to common products.
Not only are head lice building a resistance to these products, but they are also not good for humans to frequently use. Instead of treating your child with all sorts of chemicals and pesticides, you are better off using a natural product that is not only safer, but also is one that head lice cannot build up a resistance to. Without switching to these products, we could see increasing numbers of head lice infestations. Numbers are already high and it is already a major inconvenience to deal with. The last thing you want to see happen is for things to get worse.
Finally, while not a major health hazard, a lack of sleep can result from having head lice.
This can be detrimental to anyone by making concentrating at work or school much more difficult.
This will typically occur if the scalp becomes incredibly itchy, which therefore makes it challenging to fall asleep at night.
The best thing you can do is detect the head lice as soon as possible and begin treatment with an all natural product that doesn’t contain any pesticides or poisons. If the itching is severe, you may choose to take an antihistamine to relieve the pain.
Once you have successfully treated the head lice and cleared it up, the itching should stop.
Now that you know a little bit more about the potential side effects from getting head lice, you probably have one major question: How can you prevent yourself or your children from getting it? While there is no way to completely eliminate your risk of getting head lice, there are some pointers to keep in mind to help reduce your chances.
First off, you need to realize that the most likely way you will get head lice is from your child, who will get it from someone at their school. This is by far the most popular way you will get head lice. This mainly happens from head to head contact, so this is something to keep in mind when instructing your children. There is no way to totally eliminate head to head contact from happening, but you can always tell your child to not share hats or headbands with people, or to not share pillows during nap time, for example.
If your child does get head lice, you can hopefully prevent other people in your family from getting it. Be sure to treat your child right away and wash all of their clothing, bedding, towels, and stuffed animals. Make sure other members of your family do not use any items that the infested child has used. Make sure that the infested person is completely free from all head lice and nits to ensure it does not spread to other people in your family or to other students at school.
It may seem like you are powerless against head lice, but that is not true! By educating yourself on how head lice are spread and taking a proactive approach to treatment, you are doing your best to either eliminate getting head lice in the first place, or to confine an infestation to only one person in the family. Should someone get head lice, keep in mind the side effects we discussed in order to prevent things like infected sores, pesticide and insecticide use and resistance, and those dreaded sleepless nights.
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