An Itchy History: Head Lice Through the Years

Of lice and men, there should have been a book on the subject. Just think back to the many times, either you, somebody you know, or your child (pets don’t count) contracted head lice. Consider the time you’ve wasted thinking about head lice, while combing away your child’s head at 2 A.M in the morning. Where did lice come from? What did humans do (come on, we must have done something bad to deserve this plague)? And most important question of all – when did lice become so intertwined with modern-day humans?

History of Lice – As Long and Itchy As Head Lice Infestations

In short, head lice have driven us into madness and consistent scratching (literal and phantom) for as long as Homo sapiens have been around. The common head louse (humanus capitis) is significantly less worrisome than its cousin aka body lice, yet they have become a permanent fixture in our lives. Lice are sometimes referred as heirloom parasites, i.e. something humans have unfortunately inherited. Here is the full story. Lice and Men Have Co-evolved With Time Next time your 8-year-old comes home, scratching her head and complaining of something moving, blame it on evolution. Researchers have now confirmed how not just these blood sucking parasites but also their microbes (or bacteria) have co-evolved with humans, over time.

Let’s Talk About Human Evolution and the Common Head Louse

Lice started out as a single entity a little more than 100,000 years ago. It was common to get body or pubic lice even then; yet somehow humans began to get head lice too, around that time. Head lice, a similar yet distinct species from body lice, became a separate category of parasite somewhere around that time. Various theories behind discovery of genetic differences between the 2 kinds of lice began to take root. The most common reasoning was people and their affinity to wear clothing at this time. This is how lice mutated, developing claws that could grab on to clothing fibers of clothing and became body lice.

Geographical Origins of Head Lice

Based on their genetic makeup, humanus capitis are divided into clades or scientific categories. What is a clade? A group of organisms, non-identical genetically but sharing a common ancestor. For simplification purposes, let’s name 3 clades of human head lice as A, B, and C. All have a different geographical origin and various genetic characteristic. Clade B head lice originally started off in North America, but reached Australia, Europe and the rest of the world in time. It’s this category of head lice that humans, parents most of all have an issue with! Can’t stand the thought of breeding these parasitic blood-suckers in your head? Call Lice Troopers for the best lice treatment Hollywood!