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GSE How to get rid of head lice

Head Lice - And how to get rid of them!

What are head lice?

Who gets head lice?

How do they infect a person?

What are head lice?

Head lice are tiny, wingless insects – they cannot fly, jump or swim, but they can walk;

A fully-grown head louse is similar in size to a sesame seed

Louse varies in color from light brown to dark red –nit is seen as a small glistening speck attached to hair shaft which can only be removed by pinching fingers above it and sliding it off the end of the hair;

Can't survive the cold -so clings to hair, keeping close to the warmth of head.

Found mostly behind the ears and at the nape of the neck

Life cycle –louse has three stages, which last 1 month from egg to egg:

–   Nits – are the eggs laid by the adult female louse; they are attached to the hair shaft by strong cement close to the scalp, because they need body heat for incubation.

✔ Size - 0.8mm x 0.3mm

✔ Shape –Oval

✔ Color - Yellow / white

✔ Location – Within 6 mm of the scalp

✔ Life-length - Nits take 6 –9 days to hatch.

–   Nymphs –released when an egg hatches. The nit shell stays attached to the hair and turns a dull yellow color. The nymph looks like an adult louse but is smaller. As the nymph grows, it molts out of its exoskeleton 3 times before becoming an adult.

✔ Size –Variable but about the size of a pinhead

✔ Shape – Same shape as the adult louse

✔ Color – Yellow to rust-colored

✔ Location – Close to the scalp, especially behind the ears and at the neckline

✔ Life-length – Nymphs become adults after about 7 days

–   Adult: The adult louse feeds about 5 times a day by piercing the skin with its claws, injecting irritating saliva, and sucking blood, which gives them a rust color. Head lice hold onto the hair with hook-like claws found at the end of each of their 6 legs. Adult lice are active and can travel quickly.

✔ Size –The size of a pinhead. The female louse is larger than the male.

✔ Shape – Oval with 3 legs and claws at the end of each leg

✔ Color – Rust

✔ Location – Close to the scalp, especially behind the ears and at the neckline

✔ Life-length – Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person's head

✔ Reproduction – An adult female can lay up to 8 nits per day

Who gets head lice?

Head lice can affect anyone with hair - long, short, dirty or clean hair - they are not a sign of poor hygiene. However, children tend to be most affected;

How do they infect a person?

Lice travel by head-to-head contact and climb from the hair of an infected person to the hair of someone else

Head lice can be picked up by direct contact or by sharing combs, brushes and hats – often whole families are often affected. The adult louse can survive up to 1-2 days without feeding on the scalp and can therefore transfer from objects that have been in contact with an infested person, for example:.

✔ Clothing - hats, scarves, coats, and sports uniforms

✔ Hair care items - combs, brushes, towels

✔ Soft objects - pillows, beds, carpet, stuffed animals

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