Dangers of Untreated Head Lice Outbreaks

Although not a major health concern, a head lice infestation is still not something to overlook. Besides the inconvenience of an itchy head, lice can produce other problems if left untreated. Read below to discover how a lice infection starts and spreads, what to do to stop it and the possible complications if it’s left unchecked.


What Are Head Lice?

Lice are parasitic insects that live and reproduce in the hairy regions of the human body. So, head lice naturally settle on the scalp, and the first signs of lice will be the tiny, dandruff-like head lice eggs found in the hair.

From egg to adult, the head lice life cycle goes through three phases:

  1. Head lice eggs, otherwise known as a nits
  2. Baby lice, or nymph
  3. Adult head lice

The adults feed off human blood and can reproduce very quickly, laying up to 10 eggs per day. It takes around three weeks for the lice eggs in hair to grow into adults, and the head lice life cycle repeats anew.


How Is a Head Lice Infestation Treated?

One of the most important and potent tools in exterminating head lice is always a fine-tooth comb, handy for getting those stubborn head lice eggs out. Combined with standard medicines and even some alternative methods, this treatment can be very efficient in removing the annoyance. Between prescription medicine to natural remedies, the treatment can quickly ensure there are no signs of lice or lice eggs in hair.

For some people, though, dealing with those gross, tiny insects might be a bit hard to handle. They might even think that if they ignore the problem, nothing further will happen. However, there really is no excuse not to address the situation as soon as possible.


Potential Problems

If left untreated, lice can create complications on two fronts: personally and social.

On the personal level, since the head lice life cycle moves very quickly, the infected scalp can become overcrowded with head lice eggs, nymphs, and adults in no time. The sensation will develop from just an itchy head to a much more unpleasant one, because a couple of lice don’t create quite the same discomfort as a couple hundred.

Other usual signs of lice are the sores that can appear after scratching the bite marks. While head lice can’t cause or transmit diseases directly, their bites can itch, and scratching them can lead to them getting infected by bacteria. So, the more lice that are present, the more bites and sores, and therefore the greater risk of a skin infection.

On the social level, an untreated infection will spread more easily from person to person and can cause a wider head lice infestation, especially in the family and at school. This might even affect the everyday life of schoolchildren – there are many schools with a “No nit policy”, which means children with even a few of lice eggs in hair are not allowed inside.

Another possible problem that can stem from a head lice infection is the erroneous assumption that lice are somehow automatically connected to bad hygiene. While untrue, this still can be a common cause for bullying.


Don’t Wait, Exterminate

Although not an immediate danger to health, a head lice infestation can bring unnecessary complications in anyone's personal life and community. With the abundance of remedies and easy solutions for the problem, there’s no reason to ever leave the infection untreated.