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Lice no more!

Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is your hair laced with lice? Lisa Antao tells you how to deal with this problem 

It's a common problem amongst children and teenagers but sometimes even adults get affected by it. The problem sometimes is confused with dandruff. We're talking about headlice. There are numerous shampoo advertisements promising to deal with dandruff but rarely for headlice. Read on to find out more on this problem...

What is it? 
Headlice or louse are tiny wingless parasites biologically known as pediculus humanus capitis that inhabit and thrive on hair and the scalp. They feed on very small amount of blood that they draw from the scalp. Dermatologist Dr Prakash Seth says, "Head lice problem occurs more in women than men, because women usually have longer hair. Loose long hair is more susceptible to lice. And managing a lice infestation is more difficult on a long-haired person, as it is difficult to comb, inspect and treat."

How do they spread? 
Headlice are passed from person to person by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Cosmetic dermatologist and trichologist, Dr Sadhana Deshmukh says, "Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who already has head lice, or even their contaminated clothing and other belongings, such as hats/caps, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons is at risk of an infestation too." Personal contact is common during play and sports activities, and at school/college, home, slumber parties, or camps amongst children and teenagers.

One should refrain from using infested combs, brushes, or towels and avoid lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or keep away from stuffed animals that has recently been in contact with a person with lice.

Can they damage the hair and scalp? 
Trichologist Dr Apoorva Shah says, "Lice aren't dangerous and don't spread any particular disorder, but are contagious and cause itching that can be terribly annoying and embarrassing. Lice bite may cause one's scalp to become itchy and inflamed, and persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation and even infection. It can lead to a bacterial infection which causes the skin to become red and tender and also involves crusting and oozing of pus along with swollen lymph glands."

Dr Deshmukh says that the most common symptom of infestation is itching on the head which normally intensifies three to four weeks after the initial infestation. Head lice infect hair on the head. They are easiest to see on the neck and over the ears. Tiny eggs on the hair look like flakes of dandruff. However, instead of flaking off the scalp, they stay put. Typically, only the head or scalp of the person gets infested, although in some cases lice can occur in other hairy parts of the body, like eyebrow, underarm, legs and genital hair.
Headlice can also have repercussions on one's social relationships, as this problem can be embarrassing. People tend to avoid coming in close contact with people suffering from headlice. Also, in some cases, children and teenagers in school/college could get teased by their peers. People also tend to question the hygiene habits of one infected with headlice.

Remedies
In order to deal with headlice proper care of hair and scalp should be taken. Dr Seth recommends the following remedies:

- Wash your hair everyday. You may shampoo it once in three days, but be sure to pass water through the hair daily. While washing the hair, massage at the roots of the hair, and not at the tips of the hair as it serves no purpose.
- Always wash your hair after you return home from a long journey where you have been in contact with crowded places.
- Clothing and bed linen can be washed in hot water with detergents.
- Objects like combs and brushes, hair bands and clips should be soaked in hot water or medicated shampoo, or both, or they could simply be replaced.

Symptoms
- Intense itching of the scalp.
- Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders (bumps may become crusty and ooze).
- Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off. 

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Warm welcome to my health blog! This was introduced with an objective to educate and spread awareness among people, encouraging them to live healthier lives with longevity. Let me emphasize that our contemporary situation in individual’s life are so fast moving that we tend to neglect and spare some moments for our own health. My inspiration has turned into passion in a health care that turned into a blog. The ample of support and response was tremendously changed into positive results. I dedicated this blog for all those people who are very conscious for their health and life style. Hope so, I can bring differences for healthy living the fore my viewer comments are always valuable and your continued patronage is important for me. Wish you a happy and healthy life ahead!

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