What are Head Lice?
• Head lice are tiny gray to brown insects about the size of a sesame seed that live in human hair and must feed on human blood to live.
• They lay tiny white oval-shaped eggs about the size of a knot in a thread. Lice glue their eggs to each strand of hair close to the scalp.
• Lice eggs and live lice are most often found in the hair behind the ears and at the back of the head and neck.
• The first sign of lice is itching of the head which is caused by the bite of the head lice.
How do You Get Head Lice?
• Head lice happen mostly with elementary school-aged children.
• Children get lice from other children through head to head contact during play or sports or nap time and often in school settings.
• Sometimes sharing combs, hats or brushes with a louse infested child can spread head lice.
• You can’t spread the eggs…only live lice.
• Head lice do not spread disease - they are not a public health threat and therefore lice cases are not tracked by the Department of State Health Services.
• Any child can get head lice. It doesn’t matter where they live or go to school, boy or girl, black, white or brown. It doesn’t mean the child is sick or unclean. It certainly doesn’t mean they have bad parents.
• Children get head lice almost as much as the common cold. Millions get it at least once a year.
How Do You Get Rid of Head Lice?
The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends the following treatment for head lice and their eggs:
1. Use an over-the-counter FDA-approved shampoo treatment that you find at the drug or grocery store. Follow the directions on the packaging exactly.
2. Remove as many eggs as possible with a special comb that comes with the head lice treatment.
3. Treat your home at the same time you treat your child. Do the following:
• Soak combs and brushes for 5-10 minutes in some of the lice shampoo for 1 hour or in very, very hot water (over 130 degrees).
• Wash sheets, blankets and other bedding in the hottest setting of water in the washing machine. Dry in a hot dryer.
• Dry-clean non-washable items or seal these items in a plastic bag for 1 week or tumble them in a very hot dryer.
• Vacuum furniture, carpets and mattresses thoroughly.
4. Treat hair a second time 7 to 10 days after the first treatment (or follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the lice treatment) to make sure that you kill any lice that may have hatched from eggs that might have been missed during the combing. This is a very important step to break the life cycle and prevent re-infestation.
5. There is no need to cut hair. Lice like to crawl on short hair just as much as long hair and they need the same treatment.
How Do You Keep Lice From Coming Back?
• Teach family members to recognize eggs and how lice are spread and check everyone’s hair periodically.
• If you find lice, follow the recommended treatment closely. It should be reported to the school nurse.
• Remind children not to share combs, brushes, hair accessories, hats, clothing, bedding, coats and so forth.