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Causes, Symptoms and Prevention of Lice

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Aman Sharma 90% (344 ratings)
DNB (Dermatology), Fellowship in Skin & Lasers, MBBS, Masters of Dermatology (M.Derm)
Dermatologist, Gurgaon  •  12 years experience
Causes, Symptoms and Prevention of Lice

A head louse is an insect that lives on the human scalp and feeds on human blood. The female louse lays eggs in the head and makes sure the eggs are attached to the hair shaft. It takes around eight days for the egg to hatch. The louse takes another 11 days to mature into an adult louse.

Causes:
The primary cause of head louse is poor personal hygiene. Other causes due to which a person can be infected by lice are:

  1. Using combs and towels that are infested.
  2. Coming in contact with another person who has this condition.
  3. Sharing the bed with a person who is affected by lice.

Symptoms:

When a person is affected by this condition then the following symptoms are observed:

  1. The saliva of the lice causes an allergic reaction in the scalp which leads to constant itching. It can occur in various places such as ears, scalp and the neck. It may not occur initially, but it tends to occur after a few weeks.
  2. Constant scratching can lead to formation of small red bumps on the skin. A bacterial infection usually occurs from constant itching.
  3. It may lead to symptoms of dandruff in the scalp.
  4. Presence of various insects in the scalp.

Prevention of Lice:

Lice can be prevented by using medicated shampoos and conditioners to wash the hair. The shampoos are usually based on a chemical called pyrethrin. This compound is toxic for lice and helps in getting rid of it.

You can also opt for the following lifestyle changes to prevent lice:

  1. You should avoid sharing your hairbrush with others.
  2. In case you have long hair, tie it in buns or ponytails.
  3. Add tea tree oil to your shampoo before using it.
  4. Keep the scalp clean to prevent infestations.
  5. Avoid sharing pillows and clothes.
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