Table of Contents
- 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?
- Does getting an infection with head lice mean that the person has poor hygiene?
- What do head lice look like? What is the life cycle of head lice?
- Where are head lice most commonly found?
- Head lice vs. dandruff
- What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?
- How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
- Does a black light help to diagnose lice infections?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)? (Continued)
- 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 prescription drugs 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?
- Is it possible to prevent head lice?
- Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
- Should I have a pest-control company spray my house to get rid of lice?
- What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?
Quick GuideLice & Nits: How to Get Rid of Head Lice
What do head lice look like? What is the life cycle of head lice?
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, 2-3 mm in length and usually yellow to white in color. 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.
Life cycle: The nits hatch into nymphs, which become full grown lice. In order to produce more nits, the adult lice must mate.
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.
Head lice vs. dandruff
Head lice are often confused with dandruff. Dandruff can easily be distinguished by combing the hair or even just rubbing. Dandruff should be easily removed, but the nits of head lice are firmly attached to the hair shaft.
American Academy of Pediatrics. "Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)." Red Book, 30th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2015.
Chosidow, O. "Oral Ivermectin Versus Malathion Lotion for Difficult-to-Treat Head Lice." New England Journal of Medicine 362 Mar. 2010: 896-905.
Devore, C.D., G. Schutze, J. Okamoto, M. Allison, R. Ancona, E. Attisha, and M. Minier. "Head lice." Pediatrics 135.5 (2015): e1355-e1365.
Feldmeier, H. "Treatment of pediculosis capitis: a critical appraisal of the current literature." American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 15.5 (2014): 401-412.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Head Lice." Dec. 28, 2016. <https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/>.
4."Male human head louse" by Gilles San Martin
6."Bugbuster" by Thanks for the polite permission of the Community Hygiene Concern, Joanna Ibarra