Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are lice?

Head lice are parasites that usually infest the scalps of school age children, although adults also get them. Lice attach their eggs to hair shafts near the scalp and lay five to six eggs a day. Lice never willingly leave the head; they stay close to the scalp for food, shelter, warmth, and moisture. They are most often found behind the ears and at the back of the neck. Hatched eggshells (nits) may be confused with dandruff. The mature louse is the size of a sesame seed and has six legs and hook-like claws that grasp the strand of hair tightly, making it difficult to dislodge. It feeds on the host’s blood every three to six hours, which can cause scalp itching, though most cases are asymptomatic. The diagnosis of lice infestation can be made definitively only if living lice are present. [BMJ 2003;326:1256]

Head Louse and Nit Rendering

Q: How do you get lice?

Lice are contagious and usually require direct head-to-head contact in order to spread. It is possible for lice to survive on clothing or other personal items for a short time, it is very unlikely but still possible that a shared hairbrush can help a louse find a new host. Lice cannot jump or fly and do not thrive on pets.
Head Lice On Human Hair

Q: Who gets lice?

Head lice do not discriminate! They are not an indicator of poor hygiene. They affect children across all income levels, classes, and cleanliness. Lice can survive underwater for up to 6 hours, even kids who bathe regularly are vulnerable. Fortunately, lice don’t carry diseases.

Head Lice Infestation Rendering