• Is it really Head Lice?

    Head lice can infest anyone, and actually prefer clean hair.  An itchy scalp or white specks in the hair may make your think of head lice, but dry skin, dandruff and other conditions may cause these symptoms.  How can you tell the difference?  Lice themselves are very difficult to see because of their small size (1/16-1/8 inch) and their ability to move very quickly.  The best tip is to look for their eggs, or nits.  While usually found behind the ears and at the nape of the neck, where it is warmest, they can be found anywhere on the scalp.  Dandruff or dry skin will flake off or is easily removed, but the nits (usually located about ¼ inches from the scalp) are actually glued to the hair shaft and are very difficult to remove.  Thus, the word “nit-picking” came about.

    How can you avoid getting lice?  Never share combs or articles of clothing with other peopleHead lice do not fly or jump, but are passed by direct contact.  You cannot get lice from (or give them to) your pet.   If you do get lice, prompt treatment is required to avoid further spread.  Medicated shampoos are available in the drug store, but since they are unable to kill newly laid eggs, the treatment needs to be repeated in seven to ten days. Follow the directions precisely for the medicated shampoo.  Many shampoos require the entire bottle to be used for each person treated.   Many “home remedies” are not effective and can be dangerous.  Your school nurse or family doctor has more information available for you. 

    Head louse

Last Modified on March 7, 2007