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Head Lice Information

Lice 101

Everything you really didn’t want to know about lice!

Louse - small insect that lives on the scalp
Nit - eggs, dead or alive, of a louse
Lice - more than one louse
Parasite - lives off another; in this case the blood of humans
Pediculosis - having an infestation of head lice Infestations - having insects present; in this case, on your head
Myths  Truths
Lice are easy to get. Lice are only spread by head to head contact. They are much harder to get than a cold the flu, ear infection, pink eye, strep throat, food poisoning or impetigo.
You can get lice from your dog, guinea pig or other animal.
Lice are species specific. You can only get lice from another human. You cannot get another animal’s lice.
Lice are often passed via hats and helmets.
Rarely, but possible. Hairbrushes, pillows and sheets are much more common modes of transmission.
School is a common place for lice transmission.
School is a VERY RARE source of transmission. Much more common are family members, overnight guests and playmates who spend a large amount of time together.
Poor hygiene contributes to lice.
Hygiene makes absolutely no difference. Lice actually like clean hair more than dirty. You get lice by close personal contact with someone else who has lice, not by being dirty.
Lice can jump or fly from one person to another.
Lice can only crawl. They can neither fly nor jump. They must crawl from one person to another.
Any nits left in the hair can cause lice to come back.
Any nits farther away than ¼ to ½ inch on the hair shaft are ALREADY hatched.
Eggs or nits can fall out of the hair, hatch and cause lice in another person.
Nits are cemented to the hair and are very hard to remove. They cannot fall off. Newly hatched larva must find a head quickly or will die.
Lice can live a long time.
Lice only live 1-2 days off the head.
All members of the family should be treated if one person has lice.
Only the person with lice should be treated.   Lice shampoos are INSECTICIDES and can be dangerous if used incorrectly or too frequently. Household members and close contacts should be checked, but only treat those who actually have lice. The house should NOT be sprayed with insecticide, nor should it be used on clothing or other items.
Checking all students in a classroom when only one student has lice can prevent lice from spreading.
Classroom transmission is EXCEEDINGLY RARE and a waste of valuable teaching time. Checking family members and close playmates is much more appropriate.
Avoiding lice is important as they spread disease.
Lice do not spread any known disease. They are annoying and icky, but cause no disease.


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