Head Lice Symptoms | All About Detecting Head Lice

Head lice symptoms, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are experienced by 6 million to 12 million young people under the age of 11 years old annually in the United States. It is estimated that as much as 80% of all schools will suffer with at least one head lice infestation each year. The presence of head lice cause discomfort and skin irritation, but there has been no evidence to support any claims that lice spreads disease.

Head lice infestation is typically experienced in daycare centers, in children camps, in schools and other places where a large number of children accumulate. The lice will spread easily from person to person who are in close contact with one another, and who also share personal items and clothing such as hairbrushes and hats. The lice themselves have no ability to fly or to jump. Head lice feed on their victims by biting them and sucking their blood into their bodies. They will then lay a large number of eggs or “nits” at their hair shafts.

These populations of nits grow at a very fast rate, and they are spread by children in a number of ways even after they remain dormant on upholstery or backpacks and clothing. Head lice can quickly be controlled once they are identified. Head lice are parasitic insects typically found on the scalp, usually at the nape of the neck when the hair is worn long, and at the back of the ears. Occasionally they can be located in the facial hair. Lice are small, six-legged insects about the size of a sesame seed, but females may be a little larger.

The Most Common Head Lice Symptoms

Perhaps the first of all head lice symptoms experienced is an itchy scalp. The itching is a symptom of the allergic reaction to the bites from the head lice. Although it is harmless it becomes a nuisance over a period of time. This itching is not specific to head lice infestation, as it could also be caused by residue from hair products, dry scalp, dandruff and mosquitoes. Constant scratching may lead to skin infection and in the more severe cases, hair lice infestation can result in hair falling out, and the skin becoming darker in the areas of the infestation. When head lice infestation is present, an itchy scalp may gradually intensify 3 to 4 weeks following the initial infestation. So the constant and persistent itching of a child’s head will indicate that a follow up with a doctor is required to verify hair lice infestation.

Using a bright light and looking at the roots of the hair shafts, you will recognize the nits as tan, white or brown creatures. When they are newly hatched the lice appear translucent or tan in color. With age and as they consume more blood they become black, deep red or brown in color. A lice comb and a magnifying glass can be used to properly identify their presence. When lice are present you will also notice bites on the nape of the neck and on the scalp. However, the presence of bites is not a definite indication that lice are present. Visually identifying their presence is the only way to positively identify a lice infestation.

The presence of nits, is another of the head lice symptoms that positively identifies an ongoing lice infestation. Lice eggs are small, oval in shape and yellow or white in color. These nits will usually be seen at the base of the hair shaft, very close to the scalp, and they are often mistaken for dandruff because they look so similar. Because of this similarity, their visual appearance makes it difficult to diagnose a lice infestation just by their presence. Further testing must be done to distinguish them from dandruff.

A crawling sensation is yet another of the head lice symptoms experienced by sufferers of head lice. This symptom is experienced as some sufferers can feel the sensation of the lice moving on their scalp. They experience the sensation mainly at night because the lice are most active at that time. One of the best methods at killing the head lice is this natural head lice treatment, simply put it on at night, and it will suffocate the lice, just make sure to scrap the dead head lice out after!

Sores are another symptom of head lice infestation. The scratching the sufferer of a lice infestation does may be so intense that it results in the development of sores on the scalp. Although these scores are usually harmless, the entry of normally benign scalp bacteria into those open scores may result in the development of an infection.

Head lice symptoms consist of a number of largely harmless but bothersome side effects of head lice infestation. Great diligence and swift intervention is required to stamp out the infestation once the  symptoms are recognized and verified.

Check out this great YouTube video that shows how to detect head lice symptoms.