- Crawling lice in the
hair near the scalp.
- Nits glued to the hair
- They are usually found
within 1/2 inch of the scalp.
When do the symptoms
take two to three weeks before the intense itching is noticed.
How are head lice
are passed from person to person by direct contact, on shared personal items
(combs, brushes, hats, scarves, sports headgear, headphones, jackets, and other
clothing), or by contact with infested bedding, furniture or carpeting. Head
lice do not fly or jump. They crawl and can fall off the head. Lice do not
usually live longer than 48 hours off the head. They only lay their eggs while
on the head. The nits will not hatch into insects if they have fallen off the
head. Lice do not spread to pets and you cannot get them from pets.
What is the
treatment for head lice?
control products come in the form of shampoos, creme rinses and lotions. Some
products are available over the counter from a drug store or drug department;
some are available only with a prescription from a physician. It is recommended
that the hair first be washed with a shampoo that does not contain a
conditioner or creme rinse. Baby shampoo and Prell* are two examples. The head
should be rinsed as usual. Some products are to be used on a dry head; others
on a head that is damp. Only those people with lice or nits should be treated,
because use of these products will not prevent someone from getting head
Follow the directions
carefully. The directions are not the same for every product. Use enough of the
product to completely wet the hair and scalp. This may mean using part of a
container for very short hair, or two containers for very long hair. The
solution must be thoroughly massaged into the scalp, because the scalp is where
the lice live--not on the ends of the hair. Leave the product on the head for
all of the time recommended. The lice don't always die immediately. It might
take up to 24 hours. If live lice are seen two days after treatment, retreat
with a different brand.
treatment, seven to ten days later, is usually recommended to kill any lice
that may have hatched. If using a prescription product, carefully follow the
directions given by the physician. More than two treatments could be harmful.
It is recommended that all nits be removed as part of the treatment. A special
fine toothed comb is usually included with the product, or can be purchased
separately. Removal of the nits may be made easier by using a white vinegar and
water solution or Clear*, a product made to loosen nits. The manufacturers of
most lice control products recommend using nit-loosening solutions after
treating the head; the makers on Nix* say to use nit-loosening solutions before
using Nix*. When using the special comb to remove nits, part the hair into
small sections. Start combing as close to the scalp as possible. Wipe the nits
from the comb often. After combing, rinse the head. After the hair is dry,
recheck the head for any nits that may be left and remove them. After
treatment, check the head every day for several days.
How can the spread of
head lice be controlled?
brushes and similar items should be soaked for 10 minutes in hot, soapy water
or a lice control product solution.
worn clothing (including hats, scarves, jackets, pajamas, etc.) should be
washed on the hot water setting and dried in a hot drier for at least 20
minutes before being worn again. Items which cannot be washed should be dry
cleaned or sealed in plastic bags for two weeks. Items such as sports headgear,
headphones, stuffed animals and pillows should also be bagged and stored.
floors and thoroughly vacuum carpets, furniture, mattresses, and the seats of
the cars. The use of lice-killing sprays is not recommended.
How can the spread of
head lice be prevented?
sharing hair care items, clothing, hats. sports headgear, towels, and bedding.
Avoid sharing lockers if possible, If jackets and hats must be hung close
together, the spread of lice can be prevented by hanging or placing clothing in
plastic or grocery bags.
Frequently check children's heads throughout the year, especially if they are
in child care or school.
names are used only as examples of products. The health department does not
recommend the use of any specific brand.