What are Lice?The head louse is a small parasitic insect that infests only human hair, laying eggs on the hair shafts and feeding on the scalp. They do not carry disease. The adult louse is about 3 mm long (about the size of a sesame seed), tan, gray, or brown. Lice are very small, flat wingless insects with stubby antenna and three pairs of legs that end in sharp curved claws. The female lays about four eggs a day on the hair shaft fairly close to the scalp and near the nape of the neck and behind the ears. The eggs or nits are very small, whitish in color and may be mistaken for dandruff. The eggs take about one week to hatch and three weeks to become adult at which time the female starts to lay eggs. Each louse survives about one month as a mature adult.How are they spread?
Head lice are easily spread from one person to another by:
What to look for:
- Coming in close contact with an infected person.
- Wearing infested clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, etc.
- Using infested combs and brushes.
- Lying on infested carpets, beds, upholstered furniture or car seats.
- Head lice survive only by feeding on human blood. Eggs may survive for seven days away from the scalp.
What to do if you find head lice:
- Head lice should be suspected when there is intense itching and scratching of the scalp and the back of the neck.
- A close examination of the scalp will reveal white, brown or gray eggs firmly attached to the hair shaft. The eggs may look like dandruff, but nits cannot be easily removed. Actual lice may be seen as well as many itchy red marks on the scalp. (Natural light or a magnifying glass may help.)
Return to School:The school nurse will check for lice and viable nits. Pottsgrove School District has a NO NIT policy. Students must be nit and lice free before being permitted to return to school.How to keep lice from coming back:
- Contact your physician for advice, if you wish.
- Follow the directions carefully on the recommended lice product. Pay special attention to the instructions on the bottle regarding how long the medication should be left on and whether rinsing the hair is recommended after treatment. Do not use a crème rinse or combination shampoo/conditioner before using lice medicine. Don’t re-wash hair for 1-2 days after treatment. Treatment may need to be repeated in seven to ten days to kill newly hatched lice.
- Remove all dead lice and nits. Several products may be recommended for this including a variety of fine-tooth combs. Alternatively, the nits may be effectively removed by running your fingernail down the affected hair shaft.
- Check all family members for lice and nits every day for 2-3 weeks to make sure head lice are gone. Treat only those family members who do have lice.
- Wash sheets and recently worn clothing (from the last 48 hours) in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
- Soak combs and brushes in hot (130 degrees F) water for 10 minutes (provided they will not be damaged by heat) or soak them for one hour in rubbing alcohol or a 2% Lysol solution.
- Vacuum mattresses, rugs, bare floors, car seats and furniture that have been in contact with the affected person in the 24 or 48 hours before treatment. Use of lice sprays can be harmful to people and pets and is not recommended.
- Any other potentially infected fabric item which cannot be soaked, washed or vacuumed (such as favorite plush toys) should be sealed tightly in a plastic bag for ten days.
- Head lice is not transmitted from animals to humans, domestic pets should not be treated.
- When you find a case of lice, tell others! Call parents with whom your child may have had close contact, school and day cares.
Teach children to avoid playtime and other activities that are likely to spread lice.
Outbreaks are possible whenever and wherever children gather. Screen your child regularly and notify us immediately if head lice or their nits are detected. (We welcome the opportunity to teach those of you who do not know how to check your child for head lice.) Working together helps us protect all of the children, including your own. Thank you for your cooperation.
- Avoid head-to-head contact common during play at school and at home (sports activities, on a playground, slumber parties, at camp).
- Do not share clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons.
- Do not share infested combs, brushes, or towels.
- Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.