Head Lice

Siobhan O'Leary

What is Head Lice?

There are many types of lice. One specific type is head lice, where the parasites live on the human scalp, and down to the neck. They live off of blood, produce eggs, and cannot jump of fly. Luckily, they're not dangerous and can't cause disease, but they could leave infections from their bites.

How is it Spread?

Again, they cannot fly, hop, swim or jump, so lice is spread by head-to-head contact. From sharing clothes and personal items with someone who has lice, you have a good chance of getting it. Usually when someone has lice, they don't notice it until months pass by, and sometimes even years! Luckily, they can't cause disease, they most you could get from lice is an infection from the bites.

They Drink Blood?

Yes, lice live off human blood. Their mouth is like a small needle, and when they bite into the scalp, they insert it and drink blood. It's sorta like a mosquito. They usually feed twice a day. Now, if head lice doesn't have any blood for about two days, they'll die, and this is most likely if they're combed out of your hair, or just somehow got out.

Who Usually Gets It?

It's a common for kids 3 to 12 years old (adults still get it), more common for girls than boys. Animals aren't usually involved with lice, so you don't have to worry about getting lice from your pets. It doesn't matter if your clean or dirty, have long hair or short hair, you could still get it if a person with head lice came by and came in head-to-head contact of some sort.

The Life Cycle

Lice is a parasite, so they hatch from eggs which are called nits. After about a week of the nit being attached to a hair strand, it hatches. The baby nymph, which is a name for baby lice, is about the size of a pinhead, and after another week, it'll be 2-3 mm. Head lice would most likely live to about a month. By then, they would of produced a good ammount of nymphs, and you'd have more lice occupying your hair.

Any Adaptations?

Lice cannot hop, jump, fly or swim, but they do have claws, and they will grip onto hair strands. So don't think you could get rid of lice by a slimple hair wash. It might be somewhat possible, but it's not likely.

Citations

  1. "Head Lice." Panhandle Health District I. (2008): n. page. Print. <http://www.phd1.idaho.gov/clinical/diseaseinvestigation/headlice.cfm>.
  2. "Head Lice." CDC (2008): n.pag. Web. 21 Mar 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/>.
  3. "Head lice: the truth and the myths - notes for families."Law, Science & Public Health Law Site. n. page. Print. <http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cphl/Practice/lice/hl-myths.htm>.
  4. "Head Lice." Kids Health n.d., Common Childhood Infections n. pag. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/head_lice.html>.