by the American School Health Association


Head lice live only on people -- not on animals. Head lice are spread by direct head-to-head contact or by sharing objects such as hats, combs, pillows or headphones.

Children may not show early signs of head lice. Later, they may scratch their head, run a low fever, be irritable or have red patches on the scalp or neck. The child's scratching can cause skin conditions such as eczema or impetigo.

Head lice are usually dark tan, brown or black and are very small. (As small as this dot .) Look for yellow, silver or light brown "nits" (eggs) attached to the hair near the scalp. Nits are very hard to pull off the hair.

If your child has lice, the entire family should be checked for lice. Then, treat only those who have lice. Call your child's doctor, the health department or a pharmacist, and ask about special shampoos for head lice. Do not use these shampoos on infants. Do not use them if you are pregnant or nursing. Some lice shampoos do not kill the nits. Nits must be removed by using a special comb that you get with the shampoo. The nits must be removed, or they will hatch and your child will have lice again.

Lice can live on clothing, beds or other items. Soak all washable items in hot water for 10 minutes. Wash clothing, sheets and towels in hot water and dry in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.

Place non-washable items, such as stuffed toys, in a tightly sealed plastic bag for two weeks. Then open the bag outdoors and shake the toys thoroughly. Vacuum carpets and furniture carefully for several days to remove lice. Do not use anti-lice sprays since children can breathe in the poison fumes.


Return to CCFDCA Homepage