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Lice History: Introduction

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Since I’ve started working for the Lice Treatment Center, on several occasions, I’ve been asked about where lice come from. As in “where are they found before they get onto someone’s head?” And it’s a great question.

Like most other pests, you would think that head lice would hide in a natural or uncleanly environment, waiting for an unsuspecting scalp to pass by. The truth is, they only thrive in one place: the human scalp. On a case-to-case basis, lice don’t initially originate from anywhere other than someone elses head. Like gypsies of the pest world, they just keep moving from person to person. The problem is, to this day, collective modern medical wisdom has yet to find a way to evict them for good.

But there’s still that overarching question: Where do lice come from?

To try and get an answer, I went beyond common lice behavior and started reading up on their history. From their genealogy, to our own evolution, and onward through time, I found that the path that lice has taken through history is just as long and full of turns as mankind’s. Throughout every great historical event, there was a very good chance that head lice were there to bare witness to it in some capacity. Scientists have even used evolutionary timelines of the louse to help accurately pinpoint certain events as far back as the era of human evolution.

There’s so much stuff out there that I’ve decided to start a series of short blog posts on the history of head lice, titled: The Ancient Hitchhiker. Each addition will be published intermittently throughout the coming of months. And even if you’re not a huge history buff like me, or lice and other creepy crawlies skeev you out a little bit, I still think you’re really going to enjoy some of the stuff we’re going to learn together.

So stay tuned, internet! There’s a lot of history to cover… and we’re going all the way back to the beginning.