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What Bugs Infest the Human Hair?

By Nicki Callahan ; Updated July 27, 2017

Bugs that infest the human hair are known as lice. These small insects are parasites to the scalp that feed and reproduce in your hair. Not only are these bugs extremely uncomfortable, but they can spread to your friends and neighbors as well. Learning about lice and how to treat them will prevent an outbreak and can help you prevent infestation in the future.

About Lice

Lice are small, six-legged insects which live in human hair and feed off of human blood. A single lice, known as a louse, can live up to 30 days and produce 100 nits (eggs). Nits are secured to the base of a hair shaft by a glue-like substance and appear as whitish-yellow ovals. It takes approximately seven to 10 days for the eggs to hatch and then another seven to 10 days for the louse to fully mature and continue reproducing. When full grown, the lice will appear as dark sesame seeds.

Symptoms of Lice

Often the first sign of lice will be an excessively itchy scalp. Itching will be focused around the ears and the nape of the neck. Look through your hair using a fine-toothed comb or a toothpick and look for signs of the whitish-yellow eggs or black, sesame seed looking adults. Lice will not always appear black or brown, as the younger ones are generally clear in color. As they age and fill will blood their color will darken as well. If you are checking your hair in the beginning stages of a lice outbreak, you may have a hard time finding them because of their small size and light color. Even so, you should begin treatment immediately or see your doctor.

How to Treat Lice

If you have an infected child, begin by notifying the school where they attend. If your child has lice, then it is very likely that other children at the school have contracted them as well. The school can conduct lice checks based on your notification. Purchase lice shampoo and a lice comb. Frequently wash your child’s hair with the shampoo, which kills the lice on contact, and then brush the hair with the lice comb, which is effective in removing the lice and the remaining nits.

How to Prevent Lice

Lice prevention is fairly straightforward. Because lice are crawling bugs, you do not have to worry about them jumping or flying onto you. Simply avoid sharing clothes, hats, brushes and headbands with other people. If you have just gotten over a lice outbreak, wash all of your clothes, hats, brushes and blankets as they can survive on these surfaces for a short period of time and pose threat of reinfestation.

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