Where do lice come from? We’ll be discussing their origins and how you contract them.
If you’ve dealt with lice problems in the past or currently do, one question that will easily come up is where they originate from.
These pests cause a lot of embarrassment and also discomfort to hosts. You’ll need to get rid of the problem not only to remove the stigma associated with it but also for your child’s well-being.
How Do You Get Lice in The First Place?
The question of where lice come from is central to treating or resolving them.
In other words, seeking to know the origins of these pests is akin to finding or focusing on the causes to tackle them properly.
Only then will your kids be safe.
Head or Body Lice; Is There A Difference?
Oftentimes, there’s a misconception in the way lice are categorized. Most people lump them into one category.
While it’s true that all are known as lice, it’s important to know that there are head and body lice. As the names suggest, head lice are mostly on the scalp while body lice are found on the body.
The Origins: Where do Lice Live In Nature?
Where do lice live when not on humans?
To better understand where lice come from, it’s necessary to consider the clades they belong to. Certain organisms share a common ancestor, yet have a different genetic identity.
This is what’s referred to as clades.
Where do lice live in the wild?
In terms of the origins of head lice, you’ll need to look at key categorizations A, B, and C. The Journal of Parasitology identifies Clade B lice as originating from North America.
These have further migrated to Europe and Australia.
Where Do Head Lice Originate From?
The key to identifying head lice is by knowing the three forms they take.
First, there’s the eggs stage also known as the nit followed by the nymph stage, and lastly the adult stage.
The Nit Stage
A head louse will lay eggs at the part of the hair shaft nearest to the scalp. These are tiny and difficult to see. It’s easy to confuse nits with hair spray droplets or dandruff due to their similarity.
The eggs appear white or yellow.
With the eggs hatched, the nymph appears. In resemblance, it looks similar to an adult louse with the only difference being the size. How fast they mature depends on blood availability.
Nymphs are unable to survive without blood.
Here, a louse is fully mature. Its size can be compared to that of a sesame seed. To remain alive, a head louse needs to stick to the scalp. Females lay around 6 eggs per day and look larger than males.
You’re likely to find a louse with slight color variations ranging from grayish-white to tan.
At best, the movement of lice involves crawling. So this means transmitting these parasites from one host to the next will be a slow process right?
Wrong! Lice can be easily transmitted from person to person when there’s close contact.
Head lice are the most popular and most difficult to deal with among other lice variants. When an infected host comes into contact (head-to-head) with a non-infected person, there’s a high likelihood of transmitting this pest.
However, a non-infested person doesn’t actually have to be in direct head-to-head contact with a lice-infested person to have lice problems.
Sharing personal items like brushes, hats, combs, towels, scarves, barrettes, ribbons, and stuffed animals can cause lice problems.
Also, whenever you use or lie on the pillow, bed, carpet, or couch used by someone who’s having a lice problem, you’re likely to contract the problem as well.
Are Diseases Spread By Head Lice?
Apart from the discomfort resulting from itchiness and sleeplessness caused by head lice, there’s nothing else to fear. However, severe itchiness resulting from a full-blown lice infestation is likely to result in some serious scratching.
Such scratching may expose the scalp to secondary infection.
In a nutshell, there’s no risk of contracting a disease from lice on hair. Nevertheless, you’ll need to get urgent treatment to contain the situation.
You also owe a responsibility to people around you to minimize or contain its spread. Head lice can be contained by treatment and also soaking combs and other personal items in hot water after each usage.
Basically, personal items shouldn’t be shared.
Most Vulnerable Hosts
Wherever you live in the world, there’s a possibility of getting head lice.
Now, the most vulnerable hosts are mostly pre-school kids. It’s common with elementary school children with household members also being exposed.
So, an affected kid will have to be comprehensively treated. Treatment measures are multi-pronged and include surfaces such as pillows, carpets, bedding, couch areas, and personal items.
Lowering the Odds Of Transmission
Having determined the origins of lice, it’s important to safeguard yourself from contracting them. In other words, you can lower the odds by taking certain preventive action.
Because kids are the most vulnerable, you might want to make them more responsible for their actions.
Never Share Combs
Asides from head-to-head contact, one of the easiest ways to transmit lice from person to person is by sharing combs, towels, and brushes among others.
To limit such possibility, discontinue the sharing of such items if you’ve been sharing before.
Also, hot water treatment is recommended for these items. Simply have them soaked in hot water for a few minutes (about 10 minutes) after each use.
Never Share Clothing
Clothing worn by a lice-infested person is likely to harbor these parasites. Such clothing should be treated using the washing machine.
Have same placed in your dryer as well?
Discourage Head-to-Head Contact
It’s important to tell your kids to avoid head-to-head contact with other kids when in school. This limits the possibility of transferring these pests from person to person.
Don’t Use Beds and other Personal Items Used by Infested Person
Avoid using bed and couch areas used by an infected person until such areas are treated. Bedding and pillowcases will have to be frequently treated until the problem is resolved.
With the origins of lice identified, it’s important to safeguard your kids and yourself from them. Several useful tips have been provided above to help in that regard.
It’s also important to contact a doctor for help when faced with such a problem.
- How To Check For Lice Yourself
- How Long Will My Head Itch After Lice Are Gone?
- Lice Exposure Timeline: Infestation Odds, Safety & Reactions
- How To Prevent Lice Eggs From Hatching