Head Lice: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/28/2019

Head lice are small parasites (Pediculus humanus capitis) that can infest the hair and scalp of humans. Head lice are common in young children and their families.

Head lice may produce intense itching of the scalp, but it often produces no symptoms at all. Other possible signs and symptoms of a head lice infestation include

  • a tickling feeling from hair movement,
  • nits (lice eggs) stuck on hair shafts, or
  • red bumps on the shoulder, neck, and scalp.

Cause of a head lice infestation

Direct spread from person to person by head-to-head contact or direct contact with the hair of an infested person can cause a head lice infestation. Other ways for head lice spread include sharing of combs, brushes, caps, and other clothing.

Other head lice symptoms and signs

  • Intense Itching of the Scalp
  • Nits (Lice Eggs) Stuck on Hair Shafts
  • Red Bumps on the Neck, Scalp, and Shoulder
  • Tickling Feeling From Hair Movement


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.