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Lice is a problem as common as it is embarrassing. A taboo subject. And yet we could fight it much more effectively if we talked about it openly.

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What are lice?

Lice (lat. Pediculosis) is a problem caused by the presence of parasites on the human body – head lice (Pediculus capitis). Head lice live only on the hairy parts of the skin, where they feed on human blood. At the sting point, inflammation of the skin is produced, causing a severe itching sensation and, consequently, scratching. Adult specimens reach 2-3 mm and are whitish-brown in color.

The first sign of lice which should put you on the alert is simply itching. If your child is constantly scratching, carefully examine the hair and the scalp. The best method is to part the hair with your fingers, combing it every couple centimeters. Lice generally concentrate behind the ears and at the back of the head – this is where your inspection should begin. Look not only for adult insects but also for their eggs, or nits.

How to identify lice

Lice are very small (2-3 mm), usually whitish, beige or brown (but can change their color according to the color of the hair) and quickly move along a hair shaft. When in motion, they can be easily seen.

Eggs are white or pale yellow, about 1 mm long, and are very firmly attached to the roots of hair. They resemble dandruff, but cannot be easily peeled away.

4 basic signs of lice infestation:

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Scratching
Scratching is the most easily observed sign of head lice. Children and adults scratch to relieve the itching caused by the lice.
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Lice on the comb
One way to diagnose head lice infestation is to comb wet hair using a fine-tooth comb and then check if there are lice on the comb.
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Lice or their larvae in hair
Clear evidence of infestation is the presence of living lice or their larvae in hair.
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Enlarged lymph nodes

Neglecting a case of head lice infestation can lead to enlargement of the lymph nodes around the head. In the event of bacterial complications, consult your doctor for advice.