According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there is an average of anywhere from 6-12 million cases of head lice reported annually in children ages 3-11. Head lice infestation occurrences happen year round and can be potentially problematic as lice is easily spread from child to child.
First, let’s clear up a few misconceptions about head lice.
– Lice is not caused by poor hygiene or contact with animals
– Lice transfers during direct contact with an affected individual
– Lice do not fly or jump, they crawl
So, what is head lice?
– Lice are small (sesame seed size), grey-white insects
– Lice attach to the skin of the scalp and neck and move by crawling
– Lice feed on human blood and lay their eggs (nits) in the hair
– Lice will die within 1-2 days without feeding on human blood
– With a good food supply, adult lice can live for about 30 days and male lice can lay about 6 eggs each day
Spotting head lice
– Separate the hair in various spots and look toward the base of the hair and scalp
– Lice can move quickly, so it may be easier to spot nits at the base of hairs
– Nits appear like dandruff but will cling to the hair if you run your finger along it
Avoiding head lice
– Advise children to minimize head-to-head contact with other children at school or in daycare and avoid sharing or trading items like hats, scarves, headphones, towels, uniforms, brushes, and combs
– Clean anything that has been in contact with head lice for at least 5-10 minutes in water over 130° F
– Avoid contact with areas where head lice have been for 1-2 days, like beds and carpets
How to treat head lice
– Apply head lice products, like Rid or Nix, according to the manufacturer’s directions
– Clean out any lice or nits with a fine comb and then repeat the application and removal process
– Physicians may be able to recommend additional products