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Head Lice and Disease: Should you be Worried?

Head Lice and Disease: Should you be Worried?
Updated on 
November 6, 2019

You just found out that you have lice. Ick...gross. But besides the ick factor, can lice create a bigger problem? Can they make you sick?

Bugs, am I right? Save for a handful of people (the kind who pin butterflies in glass cases and own high-powered magnifying glasses), most humans are essentially programmed to not like bugs. We don’t want them in the same room, in the same bed, and especially not touching us. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint, given that humans are hardwired to avoid anything that could give us a disease or harm us in some way (snakes, anyone?). So if you find yourself with a fresh case of head lice, personally or in close proximity, you may be asking yourself, “Should I be worried?”

You may be concerned that head lice are getting ready to wreak havoc on your head. They feast and live on human blood, and that just doesn’t sound good. “So, are lice dangerous? Will they give me or my loved one a disease? Will they harm us?”

The short answer is, fortunately, no. Yep, it's true, lice are not dangerous in the ways that we may be wondering about or be accustomed to thinking about when it comes to bugs.

close image of two fists giving thumbs up sign by soft focus smiling woman in background.

Unlike their parasitic cousins, ticks, lice do not carry diseases. Ticks and lice are not actually related, but given their relatively similar bug-like bodies, sizes, and nature, many people might confuse the two. Both do survive off of human blood, but lice don’t carry any diseases that can then be transferred to their human hosts like ticks do (ie: Lyme disease).

Nope, lice are just relatively harmless parasites that like to find a comfy human head to call home, move all their furniture in, and then exponentially grow their family at an alarmingly fast rate. And in this, they are a nuisance. So that “relatively” harmless means they can hurt you in the sense that they’re inconvenient, need to be dealt with, and can potentially make you feel itchy.

Lice bites are just like other blood-feeding insects or parasites in this sense. You know that bug bites itch. This is because of our body’s reaction to any sort of foreign substance that breaks the skin. When a bug like a mosquito bites us, our body doesn’t recognize its saliva, and sends in the troops in the form of a classic immune response. Blood flow, white blood cells, and histamine all increase in the area, leading to swelling and inflammation, and an itching sensation. With all this, the only threat from a lice infestation is an increase in immune response to their tiny, annoying bites. This is what leads to the annoying itching that so many hosts/victims complain about during lice infestations.

Depending on one’s immune response, some people don’t experience itching at all. If you’re an unfortunate mega-itcher, and you’re extra thorough with your scratching, you may irritate the skin on your scalp.

conroe severe head lice scab itching

The only threat of lice, then, is extra scratching and the following irritation or rash that can spread.

Gentle rubbing (rather than digging in with fingernails), warm washcloths, or even cool towels can all help ease the itching. Although, unfortunately, a cure to bug bite itching does not yet exist, you can rest assured that lice pose no threat of disease. So go ahead and lightly scratch while you get together your plan of attack.

LiceDoctors can end you lice itchiness by ending your lice infestation. Just call today in Conroe and Atascocita at 713-966-6116 for same day treatment, any day of the week or weekend. No need to be uncomfortable any longer!

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