Lice - Head

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • A scalp infection with tiny gray bugs called lice
  • Many white eggs (nits) are seen in the hair

Symptoms

  • Itching of the scalp is the main symptom.
  • A scalp rash may be present. The back of the neck is the favorite area.

Lice and Nits

  • Lice are 1/16-inch (2 mm) long gray-colored bugs. They move quickly and are difficult to see.
  • Nits are white eggs firmly attached to hair shafts near the skin. Unlike dandruff or sand, nits can't be shaken off the hair shafts.
  • The nits are easier to see than the lice. Nits are white and very numerous.

Lifespan of Lice

  • The nits (eggs) hatch into lice in about 1 week.
  • Nits (eggs) that are over ½ inch (1 cm) from the scalp are empty egg cases. They are very white in color.
  • Off the scalp, nits (eggs) can’t survive over 2 weeks.
  • Adult lice survive 3 weeks on the scalp or 24 hours off the scalp.

Cause

  • A tiny insect the size of a sesame seed

Transmission of Head Lice: Live Lice, Not Nits

  • Only live lice can give lice to another child.
  • Nits (lice eggs) cannot pass on lice. Nits are attached to the child’s hair.
  • Almost all spread of lice is from direct hair-to-hair contact. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s hair.
  • The spread of lice from hats, hair brushes or combs is not common. Headphones and other objects also do not usually spread lice.
  • Most often, the spread of lice to others occurs at home, not school. Sleepovers and bed-sharing are a major source.

Return to School

  • Your child can return to school after 1 treatment of anti-lice shampoo.
  • A child with nits only doesn't need to miss any school or child care. Nits do not spread to others, nor do they cause lice in others.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
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