How to recognize head lice

How to recognize head lice

Head lice represent a boring infestation but, following specific steps, easy to identify and to fight: let’s find out how to recognize pediculosis.

How to recognize head lice

What are lice

Millimeter parasitic insects, head lice , scientifically known as Pediculus humanus capitis , are above all different from animal, body, clothing and pubic lice.

The louse likes to feed on blood on clean, thick and well washed heads ; widespread even in recent years, it even seems to have become more resistant to some substances or pyrethrum used to fight it.

Pediculosis , lice infestation, does not look at anyone and, first of all, is fought thanks to correct communication : mothers who remain silent out of shame or families who foolishly hide the infestation from the rest of the community, do not other than fueling its diffusion.

The louse lives well in a warm environment, at a temperature of 35/36 ° C and is transmitted mainly by direct contact between the heads or by use of common objects. Outside its “host” the louse has a short life, does not fly and generally does not survive for more than three days . Boiling water and ironing help eliminate lice that eventually get on your clothes. 

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Symptoms of the presence of head lice

Itching or tickling in the head , especially in the back of the neck and behind the ears, is the first and most common symptom of pediculosis. Humans are allergic to the saliva injected by lice when they suck blood from the skin.

Itching means scratching, scratching can cause skin lesions, scratches or redness. The louse deposits its egg or nit about 4 millimeters from the skin.

Therefore, thanks to a careful inspection, also done with a magnifying glass , both clear and whitish nits and small animals can be visible. For safety, if you have children who frequent common areas such as kindergartens, schools, summer camps, always check their heads a couple of times a month , initially in fact the symptoms described above may be mild or still not noticeable, depending on the sensitivity of each one.

How to recognize lice and eggs

Lice and eggs initially develop in the nape area and behind the ears. Lice are a few millimeters long and grayish; the nits should be looked for at a short distance from the scalp, clinging motionless to the hair shaft, and are ivory-white in color , often confused with dandruff.

There are also darker eggs , from which the embryo-nymph will soon emerge. The fine-toothed comb , easily purchased at pharmacies or parapharmacies, remains a good tool for the treatment and removal of eggs and lice. 


For further information, consult: G. Bartolozzi . Head lice. Electronic Doctor and Child Pages . “The Louse. History, biology, medicine” by Carlo Gelmetti, Luciano Süss, Stefano Veraldi.

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