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Head Lice: What You Need To Know

What head lice is and how to get rid of it

What are head lice?

Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are parasitic insects that are found on the heads of people. Having head lice is a very common occurrence in the U.S. and they are spread by close physical contact, especially among children.

Head lice are usually found on the scalp near the neckline at the back of the neck and behind the ears.

There are three forms of head lice:

  1. Nit - Head lice eggs are called nits. They are very difficult to see and are often mistaken for dandruff. They are usually found attached to the hair shaft.
  2. Nymph - The nit hatches into a baby louse which is called a nymph.
  3. Adult - The adult louse is very small, is tan to greyish-white in color, and has six legs. In people with dark hair, the adult louse will look darker.

Signs that your youngster may be infested with head lice:
  • A tickling feeling in the hair and on the scalp
  • Itching on and around the head area 
  • Unexplained irritability 
  • Sores on the head caused by your child's scratching 

How to rid the infested person of lice:
  1. Visit your pharmacy and get a bottle of pediculicide (lice medicine) and follow the instructions.
  2. Have the affected person change into clean clothes. 
  3. Run a fine comb through the hair every few hours to remove the lice, nymphs, and nits.
If this treatment routine fails to remove all of the lice, see a doctor.

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