Lice infestation is most common in children between the ages of three and 12, and the condition is more prevalent in girls than in boys. Girls between the ages of three and 12 are thus the most vulnerable group to get infested. As children grow older, the phenomenon becomes less and less common, with adults being the least susceptible. This begs the question, “How do kids get lice?”
There are a number of reasons behind the high incidence of lice infestation in children, and in this short article we will briefly look at each.
There are three main factors to consider when it comes to understanding the phenomenon of the high rate of infestation in children. The first is direct contact. The human head louse spreads from one individual to another in a group setting, such as found in a family or a classroom. If one person becomes infected, other members of the group soon follow.
The most common way for this parasite to spread is by direct physical contact. This happens when an infected child comes into contact with an uninfected child. Due to children's play activities, such as hugging and various kinds of contact sports, they are more often in close physical contact with their peers than are adults. This makes it easier for the lice to spread.
Apart from direct physical contact, lice may also spread when kids share personal use items. These include combs, brushes, hats, caps, towels and other items that come in contact with hair. Many children get infected at schools and other public places, and a common means of infestation is sharing lockers or coat racks.
Another factor is awareness. Children who are infected with lice are less likely to be aware of the infestation than adults. Often, they do not complain about the itchiness simply because they are not completely aware of the sensation. Since children are less likely to report an infestation due to a lack of awareness, they carry the parasites for longer, increasing the likelihood of spreading the infection and infecting other children.
Head lice infestation is equally prevalent across all social and economic brackets. The condition is also equally likely in clean or dirty hair. Note that, however, African-American children almost never get infected. Infestation is least common in African-American children because of a difference in the structure of the hair shaft.
Everything being said, simply because kids are more prone to get infested does not mean adults are completely safe. Many adults have to contend with lice infestation, by relying on a number of chemical treatments and home remedies to get rid of these parasites.