Do You Know?

Do You Know How
To Recognize and Treat Lice? 

U.S. National Library of MedicineKids' Health

Having head lice does NOT mean poor hygiene or low social status.

Even though it sounds gross, lice are actually a very common problem, as they spread easily, especially for school age children between the 3 years and 12 years.

Having head lice causes intense itching, but does not lead to serious medical problems and they do not carry or spread diseases.

Lice are not dangerous but they are very contageous and annoying.

The scalp and hair must be treated as well as other sources of contamination (such as carseats, beds, hats, and more)

Head lice can live up to 30 days on a human. Their nits (eggs) can live for more than 2 weeks.

How lice are spread:

You can get head lice if you:

   Come in close contact with a person who has lice

   Touch the clothing or bedding of someone who has lice

   Share hats, towels, brushes, or combs of someone who has had lice

What to look for:

Nits: The nits, or lice eggs, look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots on the hair shafts close to the scalp. Nits look a similar to dandruff, except they do not come off if you try to brush or shake them off. It is more common to find the nits rather than the actual lice on your child's head.

Lice: The adult lice are the size of a sesame seed and they are a grayish-white or tan in color.

Scratching: Scratching is the most noticable symptom of head lice. The scratching is due to a reaction to the lice's salava.

What to do:

If you suspect your child has head lice, check their head very carefully as lice can be hard to spot. Look closely at the scalp under a bright light.
Part the hair all the way down to the scalp in  small sections, looking both for moving lice and eggs (nits). Look at the entire head this way. Look closely around the top of the neck and ears, the most common locations for eggs.

Treatment is recommended if even one egg is found.


Treat children and adults with lice promptly and thoroughly.

You can remove the eggs with a nit comb.

Over-the-counter treatments can be used to kill the lice and nits. These are usually medicated shampoos or cream rinses.

Wash all clothes and bed linens in hot water with detergent. This also helps prevent head lice from spreading to others during the short period when head lice can survive off the human body.

Repeat combing for nits in 7 - 10 days.


   Wash all bed linens and clothing recently used in very hot water (130° F) and then put them in the the dryer for at least 20 minutes on the hottest cycle.
Dry-clean all bed sheets, clothing, stuffed animals, and plush toys that can't be washed. Or you can put them in airtight bags for 2 weeks.
Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (in your home AND car!).
Soak hair items such as combs, barrettes, hair ties, headbands, and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for 1 hour. You can also wash them in hot water or simply throw them away.

Encourage kids not to share combs, brushes, hats, scarves, bandanas, ribbons, barrettes, hair ties, headbands, towels, helmets, or other personal items with anyone else, whether they may have lice or not.

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