Addressing myths about head lice

by Chris Singh

Due to their lifestyles on the road, professional truck drivers are more susceptible to catching head lice than many other professionals.

It is important to note that getting lice is not a sign of poor hygiene or an unclean living environment. In the case of the truck driver, it is more an issue of a transient lifestyle and the frequent use of public washrooms. Head lice are tiny, parasitic insects that live and feed on the blood from your scalp. Fortunately, head lice are not a serious condition as they do not spread disease from person to person. However, the symptoms of a head lice infestation can be quite annoying.

The most common symptom of head lice is intense itching of the scalp. This itching is an allergic reaction to the saliva that the lice inject into the scalp during feeding. This usually results in itchy red bumps on the scalp, neck and shoulders.

In order to confirm a case of head lice you must find live lice. In good light, gently part the hair and look closely at the roots. Head lice can move very fast and are sometimes hard to see. Adult lice are approximately the size and colour of a sesame seed. Lice eggs which are called nits are whitish-grey, tan or yellow ovals approximately the size of a grain of sand. They stick to the hair close to the scalp and are often mistaken for dandruff. Interestingly, adult lice can live for up to 30 days on a person’s head, but will die within three days away from the scalp.

Contrary to popular belief, lice cannot fly or jump. They are spread by physical contact or via contact with contaminated personal belongings or furniture. As a result, sharing personal belongings such as hats, combs and brushes is not recommended. Luckily, there are no major complications from head lice. The worst that may happen is that the itching may cause you to scratch your head so much that you break the skin.

The most common treatment for head lice is over-the-counter shampoos that contain insecticides that kill the lice. If you do not want to use insecticides, a fine-toothed or nit comb can physically remove the lice from wet hair. This routine must be repeated every three to four days for at least two weeks. Unfortunately, preventing the spread of head lice is difficult. However, if you know that you have head lice, it is best that you remain at home and not go to public places until you are cured.

-Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.