Lice infestation: no need to panic: Treat head lice effectively
Lice infestation is the nightmare of all parents and teachers. However, there is no cause for excitement. Dr. Isabel Justus, managing director of the Bremen Chamber of Pharmacists, calmed down: "Head lice are common in children". There are different types of lice, the transmission of which takes place in different ways. Usually close physical contact enables the transmission of the parasites. With the right active ingredient, lice are completely removed. Advice from the pharmacy on suitable means supports successful treatment.
Head lice are small insects that settle on the human hair and lay their eggs there. Very rarely, in the case of severe infestation, other hairy parts of the upper body can also be affected. An adult head louse has an elongated body and is about three millimeters tall. On its six legs there are hook-shaped claws with which it can hold on to hair particularly well. These legs allow her to crawl over her hair and move from one head to the next. Your only food is human blood. The louse has stinging, sucking mouthparts. Because it releases a narcotic when sucking, you usually don't feel the sting immediately. The parasites suck blood several times a day to feed. A head louse can only manage 24 hours without food, some species can do this for a maximum of 55 hours.
Head lice are transmitted through close interpersonal contacts. They move from hair to hair, so to speak. Head lice cannot jump or fly, but they can crawl quickly. Head lice occur frequently in autumn and winter. Children are most susceptible to infection and spread, as they seek close contact with their fellow human beings and often stay in community facilities such as schools or kindergartens. Family members are usually also affected. Pets are not carriers. Lice can settle in every person, despite the best head care and daily hair washing. They are not choosy when it comes to choosing their hair, every head is welcome as a food source.
Symptoms and treatment
The louse bites cause redness and itching, which causes those affected to constantly scratch their heads. The reason is that the louse injects a small amount of saliva into the scalp with every blood meal. A purulent inflammatory rash develops in the neck and behind the ears in particular, which can lead to bacterial skin infections. In this case, a visit to a doctor's office is necessary. At first, the lice and their eggs, the so-called nits, are difficult to spot on the scalp. The nits are particularly easy to spot in the neck and temple area. “An aid to discovering lice is the lice comb. This combs the hair strand by strand with a conditioner, and in the case of infestation you can find head lice or larvae, ”explains Justus, chamber manager. The special comb is available in pharmacies.
Head lice are found worldwide, but children in particular are very often affected. Since the head louse cannot jump, but can only climb, when it changes hosts it needs to have two people's hair touch. This is probably why girls have head lice more often than boys. Sometimes whole schools, kindergartens or daycare centers are hit by a head lice epidemic. It is important for parents to know which rules of conduct exist and which treatment method is suitable for their children. Pharmacists help in the selection of medical products.
Some active substances offered on the market are harmful to infants and young children. For this reason, parents of children up to three years old should seek advice from the doctor about the appropriate treatment. As a rule, however, this is done in self-medication, because nowadays numerous over-the-counter preparations for fighting lice are available. In the case of children up to twelve years of age, the health insurance covers the costs of the medication, provided a prescription from the pediatrician is available.
There are two groups of anti-lice agents: neurotoxic preparations with, for example, pyrethrum extract or physical lice agents based on silicone oil, mineral oil or vegetable. When used correctly, both preparations help equally well. With modern head lice remedies, an exposure time of ten minutes is sufficient and a single application is enough to get rid of the nuisance. With many preparations, the application must be repeated after eight to ten days. The exact information of the manufacturer regarding exposure time and repetition should be observed. Children can go back to kindergarten or school immediately after use. As a rule, a confirmation from the parents that an anti-lice treatment has been carried out is sufficient. So far, the options for preventing head lice infestation have been limited. There are currently three new preparations on the market that have a preventive effect. These are available from local pharmacies.
Measures to clean the environment
If a child suffers from lice infestation, parents should carefully examine their own hair and that of their siblings so that they can be treated immediately if necessary. This is much more important than thorough cleaning of the environment, since lice can only survive on the human head. If they get no blood there as food, they die after two days at the latest. For this reason, the animals prefer to stay in the hair rather than being in other places. A transmission over hats or other objects is therefore rather the exception. To ensure safety, combs, brushes and hair accessories should be cleaned with soapy water at 60 degrees.
Cuddly toys and dolls are also not attractive for lice as a place to stay, since they cannot survive there either. A louse that is there by mistake is too weak after a few hours due to the lack of food to cling to a new host and crawl into the scalp. So storing the cuddly toys in plastic bags for days or even freezing them is superfluous. Special detergents for clothes, furniture and carpets are also not indicated. To have a better feeling, bed linen, towels and sleeping clothes can be replaced once. Daily changing and washing is not necessary and only leads to unnecessary stress and high water consumption. Dogs and cats cannot transmit lice, which is why they can be cuddled with without hesitation.
“Parents should know that as soon as they discover head lice in their child, they are obliged to report this to kindergarten or school. This is prescribed by the Infection Protection Act, ”Managing Director Isabel Justus informs. "In addition, it is important to start treatment immediately and also to immediately inform friends or fellow club members of the child."