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Signs of Lice and How to Prevent Them

Find out what the signs of lice are and how you can prevent your child from getting them this school year.

August 24, 2017 | HF Healthy Living Team

Lice, also called Pediculus Humanus capitis, are parasitic insects most commonly found on the head, though they can be seen on the eyebrows and eyelashes as well. Head lice live close to the human scalp and feed on human blood throughout the day but are not known to spread disease.

Find out below how you can help prevent your child from getting lice, notice the signs, and know when to go to the doctor.

Common Symptoms to Look Out for

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common signs of head lice infestation are below. Keep in mind that light infestations can go unnoticed.

  • Itching caused by an allergic reaction to the bites
  • Tickling feeling in the scalp
  • Irritability
  • Sores on the head due to scratching
  • Skin bumps
  • Visible lice on the scalp
  • Lice eggs (also known as nits) on the hair shaft
  • Difficulty sleeping (head lice are most active at night)

It’s important to pay attention to any signs your child may show, but it’s also essential to take all the steps you can to prevent head lice in the first place.

How to Prevent Head Lice

The most common way head lice are spread is through head-to-head contact; other cases are rare, but they can happen. Take note of the prevention tips below to stay safe.

  • Avoid sharing hats, scarves, helmets, towels, pillows, hair clips, etc.
  • Stay away from sharing brushes or combs. Soak hair supplies in hot water (at least 130 degrees) for five to ten minutes if a person that was infected used them.
  • Refrain from using chemicals like harsh sprays, as they will not help to keep head lice away and can be toxic to breathe in
  • Be cautious when children are active and might be more susceptible, such as at playgrounds, after-school activities, etc.

When to See Your Provider

Make sure to visit your provider before you start a treatment, as it is common for parents to mistake head lice for other things like dandruff, hair product residue, scabs, dirt, or dead nits (lice eggs) from a past infestation.

It’s always safe to visit your provider, especially if you aren’t sure what is bothering your child. Your provider can help prescribe a medicated treatment if that is necessary.


© 2017 HF Management Services, LLC

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

“Parasites-Head Lice,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 14, 2017.

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