• Head Lice


    What are lice?
    Lice are small grayish-white insects, 1/16 to 1/8 inches long, shaped like a football. They don't usually carry disease, but can cause your child and family discomfort, stress and sometimes skin irritation.
    How would I know if my child has head lice?
    Itching is the first sign, unless your child has a very light case. Check your child's head and scalp when scratching begins. Check for lice and their eggs or "nits." 
    See below.
    How did my child get head lice?
    Lice cannot hop, jump or fly. They move from child to child through close body contact. Head to head play or being together on a mat at nap time can spread lice. Sharing combs, brushes, hair bands, hats, caps, coats, and even neck scarves spreads them, too. Sharing a locker or cubbyhole with a lice-infested child is very common. If left behind, lice can attach to your child while sitting on carpets or furniture. Lice can even attach to stuffed toys.
    What is a "nit" and where do they live?
    A nit is a lice egg. You may see the nits before lice. Each nit is attached to a hair at the scalp with a waterproof, cement-like substance. Nits are on the hairs at the "nape" of the neck (back of the head where the hair stops and the neck begins) and behind the ears. Start here first. They live anywhere; so, look all over the scalp. The grayish-white nits, about 1/32 inch (1 mm) long, are shaped like a long football.
    How long do lice live and how many eggs do they lay during their life span?
    Lice live on a body around 30 days while feeding on blood every 3 to 6 hours, and laying from 50 to 150 eggs. The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days and become adults in 2 weeks. If not on a body, they die after 24 hours.
    What can my family do to avoid becoming infested with head lice?
    Once in a while, check heads for signs of lice. Teach your children not to share combs, brushes, hair bands, hats, coats, and even neck scarves. Remind them not to share nap mats, pillows, beds, stuffed toys and even sit too closely on furniture. Think about separating jackets from other students (e.g. separate pegs, storage areas, or backs of their own chairs).

    What should I do if I think my child has lice?
    You can take care of your child's head lice problem at home without a visit to the doctor or clinic. Treatments can be purchased without a prescription at pharmacies or grocery stores. Many parents feel embarrassed when their child has lice. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone experienced in talking to parents of children with a head lice problem. The nurse at your child's school, your doctor, and even the pharmacist can help.

  • Do all children get head lice?

    Children get head lice or Pediculosis (pe.dic.u.lo.sis) almost as much as the common cold. Millions get it at least one time, once a year. Children get lice more than teens or adults, and ANY child can get head lice! It does not matter where they live or go to school; how much money they have; or, if boy or girl, black, white or brown.

    A child is not sick or unclean if they have head lice. Taking baths will not kill lice or keep children from getting lice. And, if a child has head lice, it certainly does not mean they have bad parents. Dealing with lice is difficult, sometimes embarrassing and can be overwhelming to anyone caring for children.

    Other sources of information: 
    - Health care providers at your neighborhood or city health clinic 

    - City or county health departments 

    - Your area Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Public Health Region