Nits, Lice and Everything Nice
Today on Parents in the Know we’re going to investigate some very small critters who seem to cause far more trouble than their size can really account for. Nits, lice and everything nice, today on Parents in the Know. Is your head itching yet?
Head lice, or pediculus capitis, is the group term used to describe the moving creatures known as lice, the eggs, known nits, and the infant lice, known as nymphs.
Head lice can only survive on the head of humans – they feed on blood taken from the scalp. If they find themselves away from human hair, they will live only a few hours and cannot breed.
Head lice lay eggs, known as nits, which are glued to strands of hair. The lice place the eggs as close to the scalp or skin as possible, as they are incubated by body heat. Eggs further away from the scalp are more likely to be non-viable, which means they won’t hatch out lice, and are usually easier to remove.
An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed (about 2 to 3 mm long). It is usually pale gray in colour. Lice are not good at travelling away from the scalp: they don’t have wings or jumping legs, so they can only crawl. This means that the only way that they can move from one head to another is by swinging on a hair. That is, if the hair they’re holding onto comes into contact with another hair, they can climb on. If that new hair is on someone else’s head, the lice have spread.
The simplest and most effective treatment is also the best way to discover if treatment is actually needed – the conditioner and comb method.
Head lice can occur in anyone, in any type of hair. Common myths and legends about head lice are examined on today’s episode. We will look at what head lice are, their life cycle, how to spot them and how to get rid of them. We’ll also investigate whether children with nits should be excluded from school.
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