Especially with elementary school children, it is quite possible that a louse infestation is detected. This is no reason to be ashamed, by the way. After all, most elementary school children will have to deal with head lice at least once during their school career. An infestation also has nothing to do with a lack of hygiene. That’s because the lice settle on the first little head that wiggles by. If you’re unlucky, the next time it’s your turnip that serves as a new home for the lice.
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Scientific name: Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse).
Size: maximum 3 millimeters.
Life span: males live 14 – 16 days, females live up to 35 days.
Human lice are very small insects that do not have wings. They settle on the heads of humans to suck blood. As luck would have it, our blood is the favorite food of these little creepy-crawlies. At the same time, lice always remain outside the body and do not even try to populate hairless parts of the body.
In addition to the head louse, humans also suffer from the clothes louse and the felt louse. They all spread by passing from one person to the next and laying their eggs. Normally, lice do not transmit diseases. Therefore, although they are extremely annoying, they are relatively harmless. Only in rare cases do they transmit spotted fever, fifth-day fever, or tularemia.
When The Louse Makes Itself Felt
Usually, we don’t notice the louse infestation until it starts to itch. This itching is our body’s reaction to the lice saliva. This is because our immune system reacts to the proteins it contains.
If we fight the louse infestation in time, there will be no further complaints from the “host”. This is the name given to the person who serves as a shelter and blood donor for the lice.
However, if one does nothing against the annoying head lice, then it can come to inflammations or eczema on the scalp. This is mainly due to the fact that you have to scratch constantly. Over time, this scratching puts a great strain on the scalp and hair.
In very bad cases, the lymph nodes swell and the hair becomes matted. Then it can also be that they settle in the eyebrows or on the upper body. However, one should not let it come so far in any case. After all, there are numerous ways to fight it nowadays.
This Is How It Happens: The Triumph Of The Louse
Lice have been around for a very long time. They will probably never be completely eradicated. This is because they have specialized in nesting on humans. That’s why they can be quite persistent.
If a child is infested with lice, the whole school class can quickly suffer. Especially in winter, there are always episodes of “lice epidemics”. This is because lice love our warm bodies and like to hideaway.
Woolen hoods are a winter risk. During the stress of the break, students sometimes mix up the hoods in order to be able to take part in the fun snowball fight as quickly as possible. Once put on, the lice-infested hood makes the child the next lice host.
In addition, lice can be transmitted through close physical contact. Since children are rarely afraid of contact, they like to cuddle and play with each other. This allows the little insects to crawl unhindered from one child to the next.
A short time later, parents can look forward to the first head lice warnings from the school. But that is not a disaster. Because where there are children, there are lice. Hardly anyone gets around this annoying circumstance.
Myths Around The Louse
Lice Jump From One Person To Another
In fact, lice can neither fly nor jump. Nevertheless, they are very nimble on their little legs as they crawl around. Therefore, they can only pass from one person to another in close contact or through unwashed clothing that has been exchanged.
Head Lice Only Occur In Poor, Hygienic Conditions
Head lice infestation has nothing to do with how well or poorly you take care of yourself and your hair. The “class” also does not matter.
You Can Also Get Head Lice From Pets
It does happen that pet fleas also attack humans. However, cats and co. is spared from lice infestation. Thus, it is also not possible to be “infected” by pets with lice.
Mayonnaise Helps Against Head Lice
Unfortunately, most home remedies do not help against head lice. Because the assumption that the creepy-crawlies would suffocate in oily substances is wrong. Mayonnaise and the like do not help against lice infestation. Neither should dangerous substances like diesel be the remedy of choice.
So It Becomes Uncomfortable For Lice
It is worst for the lice if they do not get a blood meal for a long time. Because then they die within three days. That is why you should concentrate on fighting the pest on the head. Spraying the immediate surroundings does little or nothing.
But the lice will not disappear by themselves. There is no need to hope for that. Therefore, small and large lice host absolutely need thorough treatment.
Step No. 1: S.O.S! Warn Others
Even if you are ashamed of it, you should tell the kindergarten or school. This is very important to protect others.
Step No. 2: Violence Is A Solution
Now it is time to get rid of the lice. If possible, all head lice must be removed and killed. You should not only look for live animals, but also for nits (these are the eggs of the lice). And this is how it is done: comb out the hair carefully and remove all nits as well as live lice. The best way to do this is to use a lice comb from the pharmacy. Then wash the head thoroughly.
Step No. 3: Put An End To Lice
Then apply a special lice rinse, which is also available at the pharmacy. This agent is also available in the form of shampoos, sprays, or gels. In any case, you should use a product whose effectiveness has been proven and is medically safe.
For babies or pregnant women (but also breastfeeding women!), a doctor’s opinion should be sought on the respective product. A dermatologist can give tips on which product is harmless to the body.
For children, it is essential to use an insecticide-free product with a short contact time. These products are usually not aggressive and are unlikely to cause allergic reactions. When applying the agent, one should not be too sparing. An even application is especially important! In addition, the product must not be diluted too much by running water, otherwise, its effect may be impaired.
Then you should follow the corresponding package insert and repeat treatments accordingly often.
Step No. 4: And Comb It Again…
As a supplement to the treatment with the louse remedy, one should comb through the still wet hair. To do this, apply a normal hair conditioner and comb the hair strand by strand. This should be done from the roots to the ends of the hair. A lice comb should also be used for this.
After each combing, the comb is wiped out with a dark cloth. If there are lice or nits on the cloth, it is necessary to comb the respective strand thoroughly once again. On the fifth day after the start of treatment, repeat the wet combing (step no. 4) once again.
Step No. 5: The Rest Of The Party
It is very likely that you will miss a few nits that survived the procedure intact. They will develop into lice within about 8 days. That is why between days 8 and 10 after starting the treatment, you should apply the anti-lice remedy once again. After that, wet comb out again as described above.
Step No. 6: Trust Is Good, Control Is Better
On day 13 after the start of treatment, check the head again by wet combing (as described in step 4).
If individual lice have been combed out, you can check again a few days later by combing out wet for the last time. Ideally, you should wait 5 – 7 days until this last check.
If all the above steps are performed correctly and carefully in this order, the louse infestation should be over after three weeks at the latest. Carrying out the steps half-heartedly may save time at the moment, but will sooner or later cost nerves. This is because the lice will continue to reproduce unhindered. The more you leave alive, the more you have to fight later. This makes the whole procedure even more tedious than it already is.
By the way, children with head lice should stay home from school until there are no lice left. This is necessary not only for the sake of the other children and teachers but also for their own good. This is because a spreading in the class ensures that a “back-infection” of the first infested child cannot be excluded.
Worksheet For The Text
Answer the following questions:
1) Explain the difficult words from the text.
2) What have you learned about the animal head louse? Make a fact sheet in which you list all the key facts. Draw a louse picture in passport photo size as part of the fact sheet.
3) Does mayonnaise really help against lice? Give reasons for your answer!
4) If you notice head lice infestation, the first thing you should do is go to the pharmacy. What things can you buy at the pharmacy that you need to remove the lice?
Photo: JLE / bigstockphoto.com