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Pediculosis (Head Lice) Facts
What is pediculosis?
- Head lice are tiny grey 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 called nits that lice glue
strand of hair close to the scalp. Although it is hard to
see head lice, a person can see the
nits if they look
- Nits are most often found in the hair behind the
ears and at the back of the head and neck. The
of head lice is itching of the head which is caused by the
bite of the head lice.
Facts about nits from the School Nurse Network Newsletter
Nits are egg sacs of lice that attach themselves to the base
of human hairs by nature’s own superglue.
A single head louse
may deposit 90 nits in her 30 day cycle. The nits appear as
small pearly, oval
specks that bear an uncanny resemblance to
dandruff. They are extremely difficult to remove,
the hatched eggs that are close to the scalp. Any nits that are
not killed may hatch and reinfest
the hair in 7 to 10 days,
which is why a second treatment is required. Nits are not
There is no currently marketed pediculicide which
will kill the eggs. They can be removed only by
off one by one or by using a special NIT comb.
How do you get head lice?
- Head lice happen mostly with elementary school-aged
- Children get lice from other children through head to
head contact during play, sports or nap time and most often
in school settings.
- Sometimes sharing combs, hats, or school lockers with a
child with head lice can spread head lice.
- You can’t spread nits…. only live lice.
- Head lice do NOT spread disease.
- Any child can get head lice. It doesn’t matter where
they live or go to school. It doesn’t mean the child is sick
How do you get rid of head lice?
- Call your doctor for his/her recommendation for
treatment. Follow directions on the packaging exactly.
- Remove as many nits as possible with a special nit comb
that comes with the head lice treatment.
- A regular tooth comb will not effectively remove the
nits. Please see the 5-Steps to Nit Removal below.
- Treat your home on the same day that you treat your
child. Do the following:
- Discard any hair care items, or soak combs and
brushes in some of the lice shampoo or rubbing alcohol
for 1 hour and then wash in very hot water for 5-10
- Wash sheets, blankets, and other bedding in the
hottest setting of water in the washing machine.
- Seal items that can not be washed in a plastic bag
for 2 weeks.
- Dry clean any clothing, bed linens, and stuffed
animals that are not machine washable.
- Vacuum carpets, mattresses and any cloth-covered
furniture in your home or car
Even though your child’s head has been treated, please
continue to check your child’s head every
day for the next
two weeks, even if you don’t see any nits or lice.
- Treat hair for a second time after 7 days (or
follow manufacture’s instructions on packaging) to
sure that you kill any lice that may have hatched from the
nits that might have been missed
during the combing,
before they lay eggs.
- There is no need to cut hair. Lice like to crawl on
short hair just as much as long hair and they
same amount of treatment.
5 Steps to Nit Removal
1. While hair is still wet comb with your regular comb to
remove snarls and tangles. Part hair into
2. Starting at the top of the head from any one of the four
parted sections, lift a one inch wide tuft
of hair up and
away from the scalp.
3. Take the special nit removal comb in your other hand and
place the teeth of the comb as close to
the scalp as
possible. Comb slowly away from the scalp to the end of the hair
being careful to comb
the entire length of each one inch
section of hair.
4. Clip or pin back nit free strands; continue to combing and
pinning until the entire section is free
of nits and lice.
Wipe nits from the comb frequently with a tissue.
5. Repeat steps 2 - 4 for the remaining sections. Always comb
away from the top of the head to
prevent re-infestation of
combed hair. This may take some time if the hair is long and
the hair dries during the combing, wet it again
How do you keep lice from coming back?
- Teach family members to recognize nits and how lice are
spread, check everyone’s hair every
day for 2 weeks and
- If you find head lice, follow the recommended treatment
closely. It should be reported to the
- Do not lie on bedding, pillows and carpets that have
recently been used by someone with lice.
- Remind children not to share combs, brushes, hair
accessories, hats, clothing, bedding, coats, etc.