Head Lice do not discriminate, and the chances are you, or someone you know, will be hit by a wave of the critter kind at some point. Come such time it is important to know exactly what you are dealing with and how such parasites can impact our day to day lives.
So, what are the common side effects of louse?
The most well-known symptom of any outbreak is of course itching. The urge to scratch at the scalp manifests itself once these unwelcomed guests feast on your blood. A frankly disgusting image, lice bite into your skin to feed themselves. Insertions made from their needle shaped mouths and their saliva can both irritate and inflame, sparking that horrible itching sensation most of us have experienced at one time or another.
A reaction to saliva is not uncommon and can be the root cause of the itching sensation (1).
Those not compelled to do so will still sense movement in their hair and a tickly feeling by extension. Put bluntly, you will be left in no doubt that you have company.
To dismiss itching as harmless is to underestimate its perils. Indeed, severe cases of scratching can lead to a secondary skin infection, which is not at all pretty (and not linked directly with the head lice infestation, rather the itching) (2). This particular diagnosis is the result of open sores, which themselves are a result of cutting the skin.
Red bumps may well develop with liquid oozing from them (3). A crusty layer is often left in their wake as infection takes hold. Sores and scabs meanwhile are another visual reminder as to lice running riot.
On the subject of severe infection spare a thought for those battling in World War One. According to reports a staggering 97% of soldiers suffered from an extreme case of head lice which spawned a devastating condition christened Trench Fever (4). The fallout of that was excruciating headaches and pain throughout the lower half of the body. Never let it be said lice are nothing to worry about!
An incessant need to itch throughout the day is unlikely to subside come the evening. Lice care not for sleeping patterns and are actually believed to be nocturnal creatures (5). They can therefore wreak havoc when you attempt to earn some shut eye.
Difficulty sleeping is a dispiriting symptom of contracting head lice and can lead onto to all manner of other issues. Trouble concentrating at school or indeed work is a direct and damaging correlation.
Finally, lice are not exactly inconspicuous, hence the ability for others to personally pick them from your hair. Their sheer visibility however creates a problem for anyone taking pride in their appearance. And it is not just the insects themselves that bring embarrassment. Far more obvious are nits (eggs) which see white shells dotted across the head. The latter can be mistaken for dandruff but that is hardly a cheery alternative. In negatively effecting appearance, lice can inspire paranoia and upset. It is important to remember not all symptoms are visual ones.
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