Head lice - everything you need to know

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Synonymshead lice
In EnglishHead louse

Domain NameEukaryotes - eukaryota
KingdomAnimals - Animalia
A typeArthropods - Arthropoda
ClassInsects – Insecta
OrderLice - Anoplura (Siphunculata)

Human pests; Household insects and mites

Special markscommon view

head louse is a type of parasite that is closely associated with humans and lives on the scalp, and can also be found on other parts of the body. Its reproduction occurs through a bisexual process, and development is incomplete. The lifespan of an adult is approximately 27 to 38 days, and one generation takes place in 16 days. This type of lice feeds on blood at all stages of its development.

head louse

The head louse has been known since ancient times as a common parasite. It prefers to live on the human scalp, infecting both adults and children, and is distributed throughout the world much more often than pubic or body lice.

A peculiarity of head lice is their adaptation to life exclusively on the human body. They are not able to survive in other conditions and die suddenly without a host. Compared to other species of the same species, head lice differ in appearance and some biological features.

A head lice infestation is not a sign of poor personal hygiene or living in an unclean environment. They are not carriers of bacterial or viral infectious diseases.

There are many home or natural remedies used to treat head lice infestations. However, there is little or no clinical evidence of their effectiveness.

The pharmacy market offers many drugs for the treatment of lice that are easy to use and safe for children. They are available in the form of shampoos, emulsions and sprays, and each parent can choose a method of treating head lice for their child in accordance with the doctor's recommendations.

Symptoms of head lice infestation

Common symptoms and signs of lice infestation may include itching of the scalp, neck and ears, lice on the scalp, and lice eggs (nits) on the hair. Nits are usually attached to the base of the hair and can be difficult to detect due to their small size. Scratching the skin can lead to painful sores on the scalp, neck and shoulders. If you suspect a lice infestation, it is important to see a doctor for professional advice and treatment.

lice infestation symptoms

Morphology and development of head lice

The morphology of head lice is characterized by their small size (2,4–4 mm), flattened body, five-segmented antennae, and piercing-sucking mouthparts. Distinctive features of sexual dimorphism include the presence of a protuberance on the fore tibia in the male and a rounded posterior end of the abdomen in the female. Lice eggs have an elongated oval shape and are attached to a hair. The lifespan of adults is 27–38 days. During blood sucking, the louse extends a piercing proboscis, cuts through the stratum corneum of the epidermis and drinks blood, filling the pharyngeal pump. Head lice lay up to 140 eggs per month and feed on blood 6-12 times a day.

life cycle of lice

Life cycle of head lice

Lice go through three stages of maturity: egg (nit), larva and adult. The eggs hatch in 6-9 days, the larvae become adults in 9-12 days, and the adult insects live for 3 to 4 weeks and lay 6 to 10 eggs per day. Head lice are transmitted to people through direct contact, often within families or between children at school or during play. Indirect transmission is possible through hats, combs, pillows, towels and clothing stored together. However, pets such as dogs and cats do not play a role in the spread of head lice.

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