"The annual economic loss owing to missed workdays by parents who have to stay home with their children adds US$4-8 billion to the country's economy."

- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Head lice are parasitic wingless insects. They live on people's heads and feed on their blood. An adult is called a Louse and is about the size of a sesame seed. Lice eggs are called Nits and are even smaller in size - they firmly attach to a hair shaft, and are often mistaken for dandruff. Lice and nits are easiest to detect at the neckline and behind the ears. Children ages 3-11 and their families get head lice most often. Girls get lice more often than boys and women more often than men. Personal hygiene has nothing to do with getting head lice. In fact, they prefer to lay their eggs in clean hair. They are extremely contagious and spread easily by direct contact. They cannot jump or fly from person to person and cannot spread from humans to pets and vice versa. However they can crawl very fast, making them hard to spot.

  • Lice can appear white, grey or brown. They are clear when hatched then become reddish brown after feeding.

  • Lice and their nits can't be drowned. They need to be suffocated, removed by hand, or combed out.

  • Nits under 4 days old cannot be killed with lice shampoo.

  • Some lice are resistant to over the counter permethrin-based treatments. (See About Lice Shampoos).

  • Nits (lice eggs) must be laid by live lice.

  • Nits take 7-10 days to hatch and another 7-10 days to lay their own eggs.

  • A female louse will produce approximately 100 eggs in her lifetime.

  • Lice can only live off the human head for 24-48 hours.

Head lice life cycle

People can get head lice by:

  • Coming into close contact with an already infested person. In children, contact is common during play, riding the school bus, and classroom activities in which children sit in groups close to each other.

  • Wearing infested clothing, such as hats/helmets, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair bands/ribbons.

  • Sharing combs, brushes, towels, or similar items.

  • Coming in contact with a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, car seat, or stuffed animal that has been contaminated.

Head Lice Symptoms

  • Tickling feeling in the hair.

  • Frequent itching, especially at night.

  • Sores from scratching.