Head Lice (cont.)
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Head lice facts
- What are head lice?
- How common is head lice infestation?
- Who is at risk for getting head lice?
- How in the world does a child get head lice?
- What do head lice look like?
- Where are head lice most commonly found?
- What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?
- How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
- My child has head lice. I don't. Should I treat myself to prevent being infested?
- Should my pets be treated for head lice?
- My child is under 2 years of age and has been diagnosed with head lice. Can I treat my child with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?
- What OTC medications are available to treat head lice?
- What is the prescription drug used to treat head lice?
- Are any home remedies effective at getting rid of head lice?
- Which head lice medicine is best for me?
- What are the rules with head lice medicines?
- How can I prevent head lice?
- Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
- Should I have a pest-control company spray my house?
- What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?
How in the world does a child get head lice?
A child can contract head lice in a number of ways.
- Contact with an already infested person: Personal contact is common during play, school, or sports activities, and at school, home, slumber parties, or camp.
- Wearing infested clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons
- Using infested combs, brushes, or towels
- Lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or stuffed animal that has recently been in contact with a person with lice
What do head lice look like?
There are three forms of lice, namely the nit, the nymph, and the adult louse.
Nit: Nits are lice eggs. Nits are hard to see and are often confused with dandruff or hair-spray droplets. Nits are found firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval and usually yellow to white. Nits take about a week to hatch.
Nymph: The nit hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult head louse but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about seven days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
Adult: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. In people with dark hair, the adult louse looks darker. Females lay nits; they are usually larger than males. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person's head. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If the louse falls off a person, it dies within two days.
Where are head lice most commonly found?
Head lice are most frequently located on the scalp behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck. Head lice hold on to hair with hook-like claws that are found at the end of each of their six legs. Head lice are rarely found on the body, eyelashes, or eyebrows.
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