Head Lice (cont.)

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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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014

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