What Are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny six-legged insects about the size as a sesame seed. They can be white, brown, or dark gray in color. They tend to cling to the scalp and neck because they like to feed on human blood. They often hide at the back of the head or behind the ears. Lice eggs (also called nits) are even harder to spot, as they are generally glued onto hairs near the scalp. They can be round or oval in shape, and they can be hard to move.
Both adults and children can get lice, but they tend to spread more quickly amongst younger children because they are more likely to touch each other’s hair or to share combs, etc. They can’t jump or fly from one person to another, but they can survive temporarily on clothing or on an item like a brush.
The best way to check for lice is to comb through wet hair.
Some children don’t even notice they have lice. Others can have them for weeks or months before they feel any itching or other symptoms. Sometimes, they only feel itchy if they have an allergic reaction to the bug bites.
However, infection can occur if they scratch the scalp a lot. Medical attention should be sought if the skin becomes swollen, red, or painful, or if the neck lymph nodes become tender.
If you do suspect that you or your child has a head lice infestation, you should notify everyone who may have come into contact (e.g. the school). Everyone should be treated at the same time to stop any chance of reinfestation.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.