How long can you have lice without knowing?
Lice problems are dreaded by many due to their embarrassing effect.
Also, human lice (consisting of the head, body, and pubic lice) spread a wide range of potentially deadly diseases such as epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever, etc.
Dealing with such an issue can be difficult for many.
Most times, infested persons have no idea of the problem at its earliest stage. In other words, lice problems do not instantly manifest. It will take some time before symptoms begin to show.
If you’re attentive enough, you might be able to apply the right treatment early enough to push back on lice infestations.
Symptoms of Lice Infestation
A lot of times, people have overlooked certain infestations and even misrepresented them with other likely causes. Under such circumstances, the wrong medication(s) is administered which worsens the situation.
Certain symptoms point to lice presence.
The most obvious of these symptoms are itchiness which can become severe in full-blown lice infestation. Other symptoms include the appearance of lice nits which are mostly in the form of white objects in hair.
Affected persons may experience tickly feeling on the scalp, body, or hair as well as the body.
A lice-infested person may find it difficult to sleep. This is in addition to sores appearing from excessive scratching. Such sores could get infected when not treated immediately.
Irritability is another common symptom. A close examination of the affected area will likely reveal red bumps.
These red bumps are mostly found around affected areas. For head lice, these will be found on the neck and shoulder area. Pubic lice will be found around the pubic area.
How Long Before I Begin to Notice Lice Symptoms?
As stated earlier, lice symptoms do not instantly appear. They develop steadily before slowly manifesting. When it comes to lice exposure, people may experience symptoms differently.
For example, someone experiencing it for the first time may not notice any symptoms.
This is especially true when the infestation is light. The first sign of a problem appears after 4 to 6 weeks of lice being on the scalp or body.
So, what happens within the 4 to 6 weeks timeframe lice first gets on the scalp or body?
Eggs may Have to Hatch
The activity of a single louse or few lice won’t be evident because they’re limited in number. However, it only takes a short period of time for these parasites to increase in number.
Eggs are laid on hair shafts closest to the scalp area.
This gives them the warmth required as well as proximity to food (your blood) for development. It takes approximately a week for nits to hatch from the time they’re being laid.
With more eggs being hatched, there’s an increased lice activity (feeding) which in turn irritates your scalp or body.
Mode of Spread
Head lice are the most difficult to deal with. You’ll only get rid of them when the right treatment approach is implemented.
These parasites are spread from person to person through bodily (head) contact as well as sharing of items like clothing, and headgear among other things.
This is why kids are the most vulnerable group of humans with lice infestations. When they play around or share items, lice get ultimately transmitted from one scalp to the next.
Through such modes of transmission, these crawling pests are effectively distributed.
Contact with infested clothing items like coats, hats, scarves, ribbons, etc can easily transmit lice. Ordinarily, a louse or egg that falls off the scalp or body won’t survive for long.
They need to be on the body to have any chance of survival.
Other personal items that could transmit lice from person to person include towels, bedding, combs, brushes, etc. These have to be used by an infected person before they’re spread.
As such, proper treatment is needed to put the problem under control.
Diagnosing a Lice Problem
Based on the symptoms mentioned earlier, it will be necessary to further diagnose an affected person to find out whether they really do have lice issues or not.
The most concrete evidence of louse presence is the actual sighting of an adult louse.
Such is likely to be seen when closer attention is paid to the scalp area. Due to its size, a head louse may be difficult to spot. However, the use of tools like a magnifying glass should help with easy identification.
In some cases, you may only find nits on hair. Now, this doesn’t confirm in any way an active lice presence. In other words, a nit may have been laid beyond or outside of the suitable distance to the scalp.
In such cases, conclusions can be made about an inactive infestation.
A nit comb comes in handy during diagnosis. This helps dislodge nits and also traps any lice when being used. The lice comb is used in such a way that it’s pulled up the hair to the very end of it.
The ultimate diagnosis can be performed by a health expert.
Treating Head Lice
This is where a lot of confusion arises especially when the right medications aren’t used. For best results, you can either use proven over-the-counter medications or prescription medications.
If you have no idea about these, seek medical help immediately.
When applying treatment, you’ll need to take out any clothing that may get stained or wet from treatment. Also, anything hindering accessibility needs to be removed.
Next, only use medications according to prescriptions or directions stated on the label or use instructions.
After every treatment, the infested individual should put on new clothing while the old are treated or washed with hot water and dried in a dryer machine. This helps kill off both lice and eggs on clothing.
Certain medications may be slow-acting as such; you wouldn’t expect these lice to be killed instantly. You’ll need to know the time or duration required for the treatment to take full effect.
If lice are seen crawling rather slowly within the window period, do not reapply.
Allow sufficient time to pass before reapplying for the treatment. With this done properly, you should be able to get rid of lice in no time.
With knowledge about the typical timeframe before noticing a lice infestation, you’re able to act more promptly to get rid of a lice problem.
- How To Check For Lice Yourself
- Where Do Lice Come From [How Do You Get Them]
- Lice Exposure Timeline: Infestation Odds, Safety & Reactions
- How To Know If You Have Lice [Signs & Symptoms]