Lice is a weird thing. The thought of bugs that can live in your hair and feed off the skin of your scalp is both disturbing and sounds somewhat unreal. The prospect of lice sounds like something that cavemen and maybe people in the medieval era had to deal with over people living in the 21st century. But, if we know anything about lice, it’s that it’s extremely tenacious. And, for hundreds of years, lice have been living off us and other mammals like those birds that live on hippos backs in the Nile, however, our relationship with lice is much less picturesque than theirs.
As we all know, lice are a problem for everyone, though they’re much more common in kids and teenagers than they are in adults. They spread like brush fire and they’re notoriously hard to get rid of because of how well they can hide in your hair. They bite on the flesh of our scalp and make us itchy and irritated, but are lice really dangerous? Is there ever a concern that lice infestation could go too far in the way a sinus infection could? Let’s check it out.
To understand the severity of a lice infestation, you have to understand lice themselves. All lice have a life cycle and that dictates the severity of the infestation. First, you get nits. They’re the eggs of head lice and they’re little ovals that are a yellowish white in color. They’re exceptionally tiny, and weigh-in at about the size of a knot in a single piece of thread which is why they’re so hard to find and treat in a head of hair. In general, they’ll be laid close to the scalp on a shaft of hair. They require the heat of your body in order to properly incubate and then hatch which occurs around six to nine days from initial laying and the introduction to the lice.
Next, they’ll transform into “nymphs,” or hatchlings. The empty nit shell will remain attached to the hair, close to the scalp. These nymphs take around seven days to mature into adulthood, you’ll be able to find them as they’re a little larger, being the size of a head of a pin, and they look yellow or rust-colored in appearance.
Once they reach adulthood, they’re called “louse” and they’re around the size of a grain of really small rice. It does not hop or fly, but they crawl quite fast and hard to catch and see. They’ll survive for around 30 days each on a scalp, and when they fall off that scalp, they’ll still be able to survive and find another host for up to two days.
As you likely know, they spread like wildfire which is astonishing for their inability to fly or hop. Everywhere they traverse is firmly on the ground, or rather, on a solid surface. They spread easily as children are often more physical and are more prone to touching other kids and allowing passage for lice to transfer from head to head. That’s why the biggest at-risk groups are preschool children, kids in daycare, and anyone attached to those individuals, like school mates, siblings and parents. The most likely scenarios for helping lice transfer are sleepovers, sports activities and summer camps, or overnight camps at all.
So what happens when lice infestations happen to your child but are not addressed? Let’s take a look
The Dangers of Lice
It’s not just the fact that lice can spread so quickly that has many folks tentative to bring their child to school on lice infestation day. It’s the consequences of ignoring, or not catching lice as soon as possible. On top of spreading, inexplicably at times, between multiple people in a matter of days, there’s a variety of consequences behind untreated lice issues.
Do You Want Impetigo?
Because ignoring lice is how you get impetigo. It’s a well-known bacterial skin infection that is commonly seen in children. It’s caused by the same bacteria that are responsible for strep throat and even staph infections. It starts as a rash and becomes anything small blisters that burst to reveal dark, murky liquid that’s russet in color. The only way to treat this infection is via antibiotics.
In fact, while Impetigo from lice is one of the more common ailments associated with ignoring your lice infestation, there are loads of other lice-caused infections that you’ll suddenly be susceptible to. Constant scratching due to the tell-tale itchy scalp can actually lead to infection. This is obviously because you’re scratching exterior sourced dirt into already open wounds. This is what causes infections like the above mentioned impetigo, as well as cellulitis. Cellulitis is another bacterial infection that works on the skin and the tissues beneath your skin. Symptoms include irritation, redness and an overall painful rash that will also have to be treated with antibiotics. Another serious infection includes a piedra infection which can sometimes be caused by a rampant lice infestation without treatment. It essentially causes a yeast infection on your scalp. You’ll need to get anti-fungal creams, medications, and shampoos to treat this sort of infection. However, one of the worst parts about a lice infestation is that refusing to treat it will almost certainly cause a recurrence.
Don’t leave it to chance and a store-bought comb. Get your child the care they need by investing in proper lice treatment services now. We provide excellent treatments, pre-checks and other lice related services to help you and your family stay safe from this nuisance. Schedule an appointment today.