Facts About Head Lice

Commonly found in preschool and elementary-age children, head lice or pediculus capitis, are small six legged wingless parasitic insects that live amongst the hair on the scalp, behind the ears and near to the neckline at the base of the scalp. Although highly contagious, head lice are not known to spread any infections or diseases.

Head lice infestations are frequently found in childcare settings, schools, institutional settings or homes and are a very common problem that most parents and teachers are more than familiar with.

They are typically spread through close head to head contact as well as the sharing of hairbrushes and accessories, clothes such as hats, pillows, headphones and bedding.

head louse

Parents of school age children are well aware of how frustrating a case of lice can be and how difficult it is to get rid of these annoying insects from the home.

The key is to arm yourself with the right facts about head lice and to ignore the numerous myths and misinformation when trying to combat an infestation.

  • Head lice cannot jump or fly from one head of hair to another
  • Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting headlice
  • Head lice are most commonly found in very clean hair rather than dirty hair
  • Petroleum jelly will kill headlice by smothering but the nits (lice eggs) will remain.
  • Flat iron hair straighteners will not kill the lice and the nits.

Treatment for head lice usually involves specialized over the counter or prescription hair shampoos, which work to kill lice on the scalp.

Nits (the unhatched lice eggs) are nearly colorless and blend in with the hair and scalp, making them difficult to spot. They remain unaffected by shampoos or rinses and need to be physically removed with the use of a fine-toothed lice comb.

Although you may be successful in getting rid of a lice infestation in your own family, it is worth noting that if a single child or person in a group has not been treated or treated correctly, the likelihood of a re-infestation in your family are very high.

Page Updated: November 12, 2016
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