Human Head Lice
Named for their propensity to inhabit the heads of humans, head lice are not indicative of uncleanliness or poverty; head lice can affect anyone. Although they are not transmitters of disease, they can cause extreme irritation and may prevent blood from clotting.
A human head lice infestation causes itching on the scalp and a black residue to appear on the back of the neck. This black powder is the excretion of the head lice. Lice can be removed manually with nit combs and home remedies, including mayonnaise and baby oil, but their effectiveness has not been confirmed.
The entire life cycle of head lice takes place on the human body, and human head lice cannot survive more than two days away from their host. However, head lice move easily from host to host and can spread through close contact, as when an infected person shares clothing or combs with another person. To prevent an infestation from spreading to another host, all bedding and clothing should be washed thoroughly at high temperatures.
Head Lice & Dogs
Unlike fleas that affect canines, cats, rodents etc., human head lice cannot survive without a viable host on which to feed. Human head lice are endemic to humans and will not affect dogs, though other species of lice have been known to bite dogs.
Lice vs Fleas
However, a flea infestation can be confused for a lice infestation. Fleas are pests which do affect dogs, and they infest homes and yards quickly. They may live within the carpet of a home for months before emerging as pests. Fleas, like lice, can bite humans as well.
If your pet shows signs of excessive itching or restlessness, he or she may be harboring fleas. Be sure to clean all bedding and check for signs of flea infestations around your home. Should a flea infestation become evident, contact your pest control professional and veterinarian for treatment options.
Can Head Lice Carry Diseases?
Head lice are not known to transmit any diseases and are not considered a health hazard. Head lice infestations may show no symptoms except for the presence of the lice when the infestation is small in number or it is a person’s first time to experience a head louse infestation. Itching is the most common reaction to head lice and is caused by an allergic reaction to louse bites. Other symptoms may include a tickling sensation, irritability, sleeplessness and sores on the head caused by scratching. Secondary infection may result if sores become infected.