What Are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny grey/brown insects that live only on the scalp of human beings. They crawl quickly but cannot fly or jump. They are not found on household pets. Having head lice does not mean you are unclean. They do not spread disease. The saliva from head lice when feeding can cause itching. Scratching may cause sores, which can get infected. Adult female lice glue eggs on the hair shaft close to the scalp. Live eggs are oval and dark in colour similar to the hair colour. They are stuck to the hair and do not fall off if you touch them. Even after the eggs hatch (7-10 days), the white shells stay on the hair shaft. Baby lice start at pencil-dot size and mature in 7-14 days molting three times.
How Are Lice Spread?
Anyone can get head lice. They spread by head to head contact. When children play, their heads often touch and lice crawl from one child to another and then on to family members. Head lice may also spread by sharing brushes, combs, hats and anything that is worn or used on the head – remind children not to share these items. Braid or tie long hair back e.g. in a ponytail. Check children’s heads weekly and especially following school breaks, sleepovers and camps.
How Do I Check For Lice?
Use natural light or a bright light and a magnifying glass if you have one. Part the hair in small sections and look near the scalp. Lice crawl very fast so they are difficult to find. Look for dark eggs glued on the hair close to the scalp. These have been laid recently. They are often found in warm spots e.g. on the hair behind the ears, back of the neck and close to the scalp. Check all the people that live in your house. Visit our school website for a videos and documents on how to check for and remove lice.
What If I Find Lice?
If you find lice, tell anyone in close contact such as family members, friends and classmates so they can be checked for lice. Everyone in the house who has head lice will need to be cleared of head lice at the same time to control the spread. Treatment products are to be used only on people who have live head lice. They do not prevent people from getting head lice.