Lice Information

The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on extremely small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. Lice are a very common problem among school-aged children.

Although lice are not dangerous and don't spread disease, they are contagious when children share hats, helmets, pillows, etc. Their bites may cause a child's scalp to become itchy and inflamed.

Signs of Head Lice. Though very small, lice can be seen by the naked eye if you thoroughly examine your child’s scalp.

Lice eggs (called nits). These look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear. Lice lay nits on hair shafts close to the skin's surface, where the temperature is perfect for keeping warm until they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, only they can't be removed by brushing or shaking them off. Unless the infestation is heavy, it's more common to see nits in a child's hair than it is to see live lice crawling on the scalp. Lice eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they're laid.

Adult lice and nymphs (baby lice). The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller and become adult lice about 1 to 2 weeks after they hatch. Most lice feed on blood several times a day, but they can survive up to 2 days off the scalp.

Scratching. With lice bites come itching and scratching. However, the itching may not always start right away — that depends on how sensitive your child's skin is to the lice. It can sometimes take weeks for kids with lice to start scratching.

Because lice do spread when children share hats, helmets, etc., we ask that all cases are reported to the school nurse immediately. In addition, we ask that you remind your children not to share items worn on or near the head.


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