What are head lice?
A head louse is an insect that lives on the human scalp and feeds on blood. While
feeding, lice inject saliva into the skin which causes itching. They hatch from small
eggs, called nits that are attached to the shaft of the individual hairs.
The eggs hatch in about 10 days, with the new lice
reaching maturity in about two weeks.
A female louse can live for 20 to 30 days, and lay as many as six eggs a day.
How does someone get head lice?
Head lice cannot jump like fleas. They have no wings and cannot fly.
Physical contact between people is a common way they spread.
Indirect routes include using the comb or hairbrush of someone who has lice,
borrowing hats, ribbons, scarves or other head coverings, sharing towels or
pillowcases, sitting in the movies or trying on clothes at stores.
What should you look for?
Persistent itching of the head and back of the neck can indicate head lice.
If your child scratches his or her head frequently, or if you hear of head lice
occurring on frequent visitors to your home, or on close friends of your child, inspect
your child’s hair for:
• Lice among the hair. Lice and nits are most likely to be found near
the scalp where the hair is the thickest, usually behind the ears and
around the nape of the neck.
• Nits on the hair. These look like tiny oval objects glued tightly to the
side of hair shafts.
What is the best lice treatment?
Daily, mechanical removal of lice and nits is essential to successful treatment.
Over-the-counter lice preparations containing pyrethrum do kill most lice and nits.
However, these products need to be used for several treatments; just one will not get
the job done. Natural products can be found at fairytaleshaircare.com. Tea tree
shampoos and products can be purchased in health food stores.
Rubbing alcohol is a great disinfectant for brushes and combs.
Check your child’s hair thoroughly each day for nits.
Nit combs can be purchased at local drug stores. It is best to check outside in the
Put backpacks and pillows in the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
Wash and change the individual’s bed sheets and pillow cases daily.
Vacuum daily until clear of lice and nits (eggs).
Don’t forget the inside of your car and the car seats. All of these things should be
done for at least ten days during the lice lifecycle.
These are just a few pointers to get you on the right path.
Research more treatments on the web by typing the subject “head lice” into any
Internet Web search engine.
Riverglades Elementary tests multiple times per year for