A case of lice or pediculosis occurs quite frequently in Germany. Children in kindergarten in particular often have lice on their heads and in their hair.
What is a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
But there are other ways of being infested with lice. People are plagued by the pubic louse or pubic louse, the head louse already mentioned and the body louse or clothes louse.
According to Biotionary, lice infestation is not a direct disease, but an itching, reddening or even small wounds caused by insects.
As a rule, this is not a health hazard, but it can still entail some risks depending on previous illnesses or special features. Despite ever better protective measures, lice infestation can still be observed.
During lice infestation, the human body is infested with head lice or pubic lice. In another form, clothes lice get stuck in clothing and from there they spread to human skin.
The lice infestation is therefore harmless, but also unpleasant. Only when the lice infestation extends to existing wounds, pus spots or bleeding in the organism can it lead to serious damage to health. This is all the worse because the insects themselves are considered disease carriers and existing suffering can be exacerbated by the lice infestation.
Nevertheless, these are basically symptoms on the skin that usually appear in childhood. Lice infestation can often be avoided by taking good precautions.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The infestation with lice usually only manifests itself a few days after the lice have infested the person with symptoms. Itching occurs, which is particularly severe at night. The itching is caused by the sucking and excreting activities of the lice.
In addition, redness, wheals and rashes can often be identified. These can appear on the head and sometimes extend to the back of the neck or behind the ears. They mainly occur where the skin is well supplied with blood and thin. This also includes the temples. Overall, wheals and redness are more common in affected children than in adults.
Scratching sometimes leads to eczema. This skin damage can be long-lasting. Occasionally there is bleeding from scratching. There is usually increased dandruff formation on the scalp as a result of the defense reactions against the lice.
The lice themselves usually show up by laying eggs between the hair. These are often visible as nits with the naked eye. The head lice themselves are also easy to spot.
Contrary to popular concern, head lice cannot transmit diseases and therefore cannot cause other symptoms. Only the clothes louse can lead to the symptoms of typhus.
Diagnosis & History
As a rule, lice infestation is registered where people spend a long time in nature, on the ground or in trees and undergrowth. Because the insects are mainly in the sand and on plants. Playing children, who struggle on the ground and climb into the foliage of the tree, are therefore affected in large numbers by lice infestation.
However, the infestation with lice can also be a problem for adults. Precisely because the small animals can be transmitted by humans or pets. Even a dog can ensure that the carpet is infested with lice, which gradually affects the residents.
Lice infestation usually manifests itself as an unpleasant itching sensation on the scalp. Other regions of the body can also be affected by lice infestation. Here, too, redness, sometimes small swellings and the strong urge to scratch would be noted. The symptoms can usually be registered just a few hours after the lice infestation and therefore enable relatively quick intervention.
Provided that the insects do not enter the organism via open wounds, the infestation with lice does not pose any health risks. However, if pathogens are actually transported into the human body by these little animals, the lice infestation can even be fatal. Such a course is now being registered in infestations with lice in negligibly small numbers.
A lice infestation, especially if it goes undetected, can cause various complications. A head lice infestation immediately causes sleep disturbances and feelings of embarrassment, which are often associated with social stigma. The psychological stress caused by a chronic lice infestation can lead to anxiety and depressive thoughts, especially in children and adolescents.
In addition, lice can transmit various pathogens and cause so-called rickettsioses. These include, for example, typhus, five-day fever and relapsing lice fever. A chronic lice infestation can also cause skin damage, allergies and acute eczema such as lice eczema. Bacterial superinfections and subsequent swelling of the lymph nodes or impetignization with painful itching and the formation of abscesses can occur.
Head lice can lead to a matting of the hair (wet plait) and, in the long run, to the development of vagrant skin. In the case of a chronic infestation, this can lead to hair loss and inflammation of the scalp, which is usually accompanied by further complications. With medical treatment of lice, side effects and allergies can occur. The prescribed drugs often lead to skin irritation, headaches or breathing difficulties. Rarely, drowsiness and inflammation of the airways can also occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you have any signs of lice infestation, you must see a doctor. Parents who notice their child’s itching, scratching of the scalp, or other signs of lice are best advised to speak to a medical professional directly. If the child’s school or daycare issues a “Lice Warning,” the child should also be examined right away. If there are signs of an infestation, it is best to consult the pediatrician.
Children under the age of three should always be taken to a doctor if they suspect they have lice. If there are many lice on the scalp or if inflammation occurs, the doctor should be called in at best immediately. A mild infestation can often be diagnosed and treated by yourself – a visit to the doctor is then not absolutely necessary. However, if the independent treatment of lice infestation is unsuccessful, the child should be taken to the pediatrician. A few days after starting treatment, the patient needs to be re-examined to make sure the lice infestation has completely gone.
Treatment & Therapy
In previous generations, the only way to combat lice infestation was to rigorously shave off the hair of the affected person. This should take the warm homeland of the insects.
However, it is currently known that the infestation with lice can also extend to the skin, so it is not always advisable to simply shorten the hair. Thanks to improved methods, it is currently possible to reduce the infestation with lice using hair shampoos, ointments, lotions or sprays. On the one hand, this kills the animals, but on the other hand, it alleviates the suffering.
It is also known that insects can be expelled from the body and clothing with household remedies such as a vinegar-water solution, as they cannot tolerate the strong acid. Only if symptoms persist for several days should the lice infestation be presented to a doctor.
It is quicker to proceed if fever, body aches, stomach and intestinal diseases as well as phases of weakness are directly associated with the lice infestation. However, since this does not usually happen, therapy for a few days with the drugs mentioned is useful to combat the infestation with lice.
Outlook & Forecast
Lice infestation is easy to treat these days. Therefore, the prognosis in this disease is favorable. Self-help measures are often sufficient to achieve freedom from symptoms. In addition to physical hygiene and washing the textiles used, special shampoos can be used to help deal with the lice infestation.
To get rid of the lice as quickly as possible, you should act as soon as you become aware of the infestation. It is important to ensure that no further spread and reproduction of the lice can take place. All people with whom the affected person has been in physical contact should also be checked for lice infestation. Therefore, the members of the household living together often have to take the same measures to eliminate the lice infestation so that no re-infestation occurs.
It is particularly important to wash worn clothing, sleeping utensils, pillows or stuffed animals so that the lice cannot multiply any further. Physical contact with other people should be reduced to a minimum during the treatment period. Physical closeness to other people who have been infested with lice should also be avoided. The changes in the appearance of the skin that have occurred usually disappear without further complications once the lice infestation has ended.
Lice infestation can be prevented by avoiding direct contact between skin and sand and plants. However, since petting pets can also lead to lice infestation, dogs and cats should also be cleaned accordingly. The same applies to clothing. In addition, unclean-looking hairdressing salons should be avoided so that the lice infestation is not transmitted.
The extent to which follow-up care is necessary depends heavily on when the infestation was discovered. Depending on the scope, there are corresponding measures that demand a high degree of discipline from those affected. Bedding should be changed, and it is also a good idea to wash duvets and nightwear in hot temperatures to ensure that the lice are killed.
If there are pets, they must not enter the sleeping area under any circumstances. In addition, there are a number of medications that only have a short-term effect. To avoid symptoms, those affected should take them acutely. As a rule, lice infestation does not require extensive follow-up care, as long as the original source is avoided and hair combs or brushes are not replaced.
You can do that yourself
In the event of a lice infestation, there are a few measures that those affected can take themselves. However, they are to be understood in addition to a therapy that promotes mechanical and chemical combating of the lice.
For pubic lice and head lice, adults can comb them out with a lice comb more often than recommended by doctors. It is conceivable to do without chemical agents in return. However, it must be combed through very thoroughly at least twice a week for four weeks. Then, if no more lice are found for two weeks, this measure is considered successful. In the case of pubic lice, shaving the affected areas also makes combating them much easier. Since children often do not take the lice control procedure lightly, it is advisable for parents to distract them during the lengthy procedure. Stories, CDs, etc. offer possibilities here. The child should also be informed about the infestation with lice and how to combat it.
Various oils (e.g. coconut oil and lavender oil ) are said to have a fighting effect. However, this has not been proven, so caution is advised here. Vinegar water, on the other hand, does not work, but at most damages the already damaged scalp. The best way to combat body lice is to boil, freeze, or airtightly package affected clothing and towels for several weeks. Drugs and chemical agents can be dispensed with.