What do you mean by pediculosis? And how does it affect kids?
Head lice (Pediculus capitis) infestation also known as pediculosis is one of the most communicable problem in human beings affecting any age group, especially most among school-age children. A population based study that was carried out in United Kingdom, showed prevalence of head lice of 2% and an annual prevalence of 37% in children indicating pediculosis is one of the common problem among children.
Description of find the
Head lice can be described as wingless, six legged, blood sucking insects measuring around 2mm to 4mm in size that lives on the scalp of humans and other animals such as dogs or cats too. It is normally observed that infested children usually carries 20 or fewer matured head lice which if kept untreated can stay for three to four weeks. They grow on scalp and inhabit there for food, warmth, moisture and shelter. The head louse usually grows by sucking blood every 3h to 6h from scalp and simultaneously injecting their saliva.
In their life cycle, adult female louse once mated, produces five to six eggs per day which can continue to stay for almost 30 days. Eggs are produced inside the shell (called a nit) that remains glued on hair strands near the scalp. Later in their life cycle, the eggs hatch into nymphs which take place in 10 days that further in 15 days turns into a mature head lice. Nymphs and adult head lice are the main source of head infestation which can survive away from host for 1-2 days.
How it is spread?
Head lice usually spread by head-to-head direct contact. They also get transferred by sharing clothing, bed sheets, pillows, bed lines etc. as lice and their nits get attached with these clothing’s and can crawl from once place to another seeking for head. Head lice cannot survive for more than 1-2 days when they fall and stay away from host head as they don’t get blood for their growth and survival.
Symptoms associated with pediculosis and how does it affect kids?
Itching caused by the saliva produced by louse is the major symptoms of pediculosis. Other symptoms are tickling feeling, irritability, and sleeplessness and sometimes sores that are formed on scalp due to scratching. But unlike body lice, head lice infestation is not a health hazard. It is a pure sign of unhygienic condition of head and hair and proper cleanliness can help to prevent their occurrence. Head lice are also not vectors of any other disease like body lice. But heavy infestation also known as secondary infection can occur if they are not treated initially which can cause bacterial infection of the excoriated scalp.
How to prevent the infection?
Maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness of head and hair by using proper shampoo is the major preventive method in avoiding pediculosis symptoms. Other basic treatment methods available and scientifically proven effective are use of topical insecticides (pyrethrins, 1% permethrin), oral agents (trimethoprim- sulfamethaxazole) and wet combing. But it is also studied that various household remedies such as using petroleum jelly, olive oil, coconut oil, anise oil and ylang ylang oil when applied to hair can also effectively control pedicilicide without any side effects, unlike topical insecticides.