How do different lice treatments and prevention methods work on a molecular level?
What are lice?
Lice are tiny parasitic insects that live on the scalps and hairs of humans and animals. They feed on the blood of their host and reproduce quickly, making them a common human health hazard. There are several types of lice. Head lice, body lice, and pubic lice are the most common.
The Life Cycle of a Louse
The life cycle of a louse begins with the female louse laying eggs, known as nits. These nits hatch into nymphs and become adult lice within 7 days. The lice feed on the blood of their host and reproduce quickly, laying up to 5-10 eggs per day. The eggs hatch within 7-10 days, and the cycle begins anew.
Lice Treatments & Prevention
Treatment for lice is typically with medicated shampoos or lotions, which kill the lice and their eggs. It’s important to thoroughly wash bedding, clothing and any other materials that may be infested, as well as to comb through the hair of the infected person with a fine-toothed nit comb, to remove any remaining nits.
Prevention of lice includes avoiding head-to-head contact with an infested person, avoiding sharing combs, hats and clothing, and regularly washing and treating bedding, mattresses and clothing with medicated lice treatments.
Though they typically don’t cause serious health problems, lice can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, as well as cause irritation and itching on the scalp. In rare cases, lice can spread disease, as seen in typhus and trench fever, though these are no longer common in the US.
FAQs on Lice
Are lice contagious?
Yes, lice can be spread through head-to-head contact or through contact with personal items like hats, combs and towels that have been in contact with an infested person.
How can I prevent lice?
To prevent lice, try to avoid head-to-head contact with someone who has lice, and don’t share personal items like hats, combs and blankets. Regularly wash and treat bedding, mattresses, and clothing with medicated lice treatments.
Do lice spread disease?
In rare cases, lice can spread disease, such as typhus and trench fever. However, these diseases are no longer common in the US.