The Lice Page
The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on extremely small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. Lice (the plural of louse) are a very common problem, especially for children ages 3 years to 12 years (girls more often than boys).
Lice aren't dangerous and they don't spread disease, but they are contagious. Their bites may cause a child's scalp to become itchy and inflamed, and persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation and even infection.
What you might see by thoroughly examining your child's head:
Though very small, lice can be seen by the naked eye.
Lice eggs (called nits). These look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear. Lice lay nits on hair shafts close to the skin's surface, where the temperature is perfect for keeping warm until they hatch. Nits look similar to dandruff, only they can't be removed by brushing or shaking them off. Nits adhere to the hair and are easily removed with the use of a comb with fine teeth or your fingernail to pull them off the hair shaft. Unless the infestation is heavy, it's more common to see nits in a child's hair than it is to see live lice crawling on the scalp. Lice eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they're laid.
Adult lice and nymphs (baby lice). The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller and become adult lice about 1 to 2 weeks after they hatch. Most lice feed on blood several times a day, but they can survive up to 2 days off the scalp.
Scratching. Itching and scratching occur with lice. The itching may not always start right away — that depends on how sensitive your child's skin is to the lice. It can sometimes take weeks for children with lice to start scratching. They may complain of things moving around on or tickling their heads.
Checking your child’s’ head. Part your child's hair into small sections and check for lice and nits on the scalp, behind the ears, and around the nape of the neck. A magnifying glass and bright light may help. It is difficult to find a nymph or adult louse. Many times, there aren't many of them and they're able to move fast.Call your child's school nurse if your child is scratching or complaining of itching of their scalp. If you discover that your child does, indeed, have lice or nits, contact the school and childcare center to let them know. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of lice. Knowledge is important and this allows us to work together and be proactive. The other students in the class will be monitored and procedures can be implemented.
When a case of lice is identified in a classroom, the child is sent home for treatment. The child may return the next day after being checked by the school nurse and cleared to remain in school. The child must be brought to school by the parent or guardian and is not to ride the school bus to school. An information letter is sent home with all the students in the class that helps parents identify and treat head lice. Children in that class will also receive a letter with directions to use a large zip lock bag for coats and school items for 2 weeks until the class is lice free. Back packs will not be allowed in school during this time. It is extremely important for parents to monitor their children daily for head lice. Thank you in advance. We need your support in order to prevent the spread of lice!
A helpful website to help detect lice and for information of how to check: