Head Lice

Facts and More Information

What are lice?
Head lice are parasitic wingless insects. They live on people's heads and feed on their blood. They move quickly and avoid light.  An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed. The eggs, called nits, are even smaller - about the size of a knot in thread. Lice and nits are found on or near the scalp, most often at the neckline and behind the ears.

How Do Lice Spread?
Lice spread by close person-to-person contact. It is possible, but uncommon, to get lice by sharing personal belongings such as hats, coats or hairbrushes.

What are the symptoms of head lice?
Symptoms are:
Tickling feeling in the hair.
Frequent itching.
Sores from scratching.
Irritability and difficulty sleeping. Head lice are most active in the dark.

Do lice live in dirty hair?
No. Personal hygiene has nothing to do with getting head lice.  There is no evidence to support the idea that lice prefer dirty - or clean - hair.

Do lice carry diseases?
No.  Head lice do not spread disease.

Where do I go for treatment?

Lice can be treated.  Please see your doctor or pharmacist for the treatment options that are best for your child and situation.

Where can I learn more?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention