FAQ

About Lice

Is it possible to get head lice from our cat or dog?

Head lice live and reproduce on human heads only. They are not transmitted by any other animals.

Is there a head lice season?

It seems that there are more cases of head lice during the school months but this is not because of a lice season. When children have more contact with each other, we see an increase in numbers. Many schools also enforce head lice policies, thereby increasing awareness of the problem.

How long do head lice live?

An adult head louse can live on a person’s head for up to 30 days. They are not able to survive more than 48 hours off the head. A nit, separated from the head, will die. It needs the warmth of the body to incubate (much like a chicken sitting on an egg).

Are head lice able to fly or jump form one head to another?

No. Head lice do not jump or fly as they have no hind legs or wings.

When head lice move from one head to another, how soon can they lay eggs?

If the head lice are fertilized females, they may begin laying eggs immediately. Head lice generally travel in harems, often consisting of seven or eight females and one male. As females will lay eight to ten eggs daily, a simple case of head lice can escalate very quickly.

Can head lice carry disease?

Since head lice have a low morbidity rate and are fairly host specific, the odds are low that they will spread disease. Some researchers believe that they carry disease, and studies are being done in that area to prove it.

How are head lice spread?

Head lice are spread primarily through head to head contact. That is why communication with those individuals that you've had recent contact with is so important.

How do i know if a nit is viable?

The only way to be certain if a nit is to look at it under a microscope. This is one of the main reasons that no-nit policies exist.

How many eggs can a head louse lay in a day?

A single female louse lays eggs twice a day and four to five eggs each time. Multiply that by 10, 20 or even 40 or more lice that might be on the head and it's easy to see how a severe infestation can develop quickly.

What is a nit?

Nit is just another name for egg.

Where do head lice come from?

They have been around since the beginning of mankind. Nits have even been found on the hair of egyptian mummies When their tombs were opened.

Who is at Risk?

Why do some people get head lice over and over again and others never do?

There are many reasons why some people seem to get lice repeatedly. They may have not eradicated the first outbreak completely. If the lice were not removed from their living space, they may be re-infested. Studies have shown that head lice leave a scent that is attractive to other head lice—this is one reason to be extra diligent in rechecking someone for three months after the outbreak.

Are head lice more prevalent in warmer climates?

No. The only difference a warmer climate makes is the lice are more apt to move up and down the hair shaft and lay eggs throughout the hair, while in colder climates, they generally stay closer to the scalp.

Do african american children get head lice?

Anyone, including african americans, can get head lice. They are less likely to get head lice because of the shape of their individual hair strands but they are far from immune.

Who is at risk of getting head lice?

Everyone is at risk. If you have contact with an infected person, you can get them.

Prevention

Won't shaving my child's head solve the problem?

Yes, but how many children want bald heads? Shaving to rid lice does not mean the hair is cut short—it means shaving away all the hair on the head.

Is there any way to ensure never getting head lice?

No. Lice feed on blood; we all are potential hosts for head lice. That's why it is so important to always exercise proactive measures.

Can using hairspray prevent head lice?

Some people believe that lice won’t attach to dirty hair, so they overuse hairspray and gels. But using these products will not prevent head lice.

Is it true that you should never share a comb or hat?

Head lice are spread through head to head contact. They cannot live away from a human head for more than 48 hours, but sharing hats, helmets and combs is never a good idea.

What can i do to prevent an outbreak of head lice?

Pulling long hair back is extremely important. Covering the scalp with hair makes it harder for lice to attach themselves to the scalp. If a child has contact with someone carrying lice, take extra care in checking his or her head. Additional measures include running a good lice comb through the hair once a week or more.

Symptoms

How long can a person have head lice before realizing it?

It is possible to have head lice for years without knowing it, especially if the person does not experience itching. Generally by the time someone identifies head lice, he/she has had head lice for four to eight weeks.

Is it true that itching is the first sign of head lice?

Itching is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva that lice secrete when feeding. The saliva keeps the blood from clotting, making the feeding process easier. About half of those who get head lice are not allergic to the saliva and therefore don’t itch. Even if someone is allergic, it takes approximately two weeks to build up enough lice saliva to cause itching

How do i know if my child has head lice?

Check your child’s head on a regular basis and run a lice comb through the hair once or twice a week. Be aware of your child's behavior and watch for telltale signs.

What are the symptoms of head lice?

Besides itching, symptoms of head lice may include a low-grade fever, swollen glands, a rash at the nape of the neck, bags under the eyes, and feeling tired. Head lice are nocturnal, meaning that they are more active at night than during the day.

Treatment

Why didn't the products we bought at the pharmacy work?

Many products available today have been on the market for about thirty years. Because of the span of time they’ve been used and overused, lice have built up a resistance to them.

Does putting mayonnaise on your head work?

Mayonnaise, vaseline, olive oil and other remedies are messy alternatives for treating head lice. The goal of these treatments is to drown the lice. Because lice can survive for up to two hours without breathing, these treatments are not very effective.

Do home remedies work?

There are many home remedies, but in most situations we don't encourage their use. Most are messy and time consuming and are no more effective than the safe products available today.

What types of products should i look for when shopping?

Get a good lice comb. Look for safe, nontoxic products. Products will not eradicate head lice. They are a means of augmenting the tedious task of nit removal.

What treatment options are available for my family?

Many safe, nontoxic treatment options are available. If you could use only one tool or product, we would recommend a good lice comb. The most important thing is that you do something, as head lice left unattended will only escalate and spread to others.

If a child has head lice, should the whole family be treated?

If one family member has a cold, do you give medicine to everyone? Of course not! What you would do, however, is exercise precautionary measures. The same holds true with lice. Be aware, check, comb, and only if necessary, treat. Just nitpickin' would do a head check first, and if evidence of head lice is identified on that person, recommend treatment.

What should i do if i find head lice on my child?

Start treating your child as swiftly as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the less the chance of it escalating or spreading to others. Check family members to make sure the lice haven’t yet spread. Call the school nurse, your child’s friends’ parents and others he or she has been in close contact with. Don’t be embarrassed, instead act fast to stop the chain.

What is the quickest way to get past a case of head lice?

There is no shortcut. Tedious, time consuming nitpicking and checking everyone with whom the person has had contact is the first step toward eliminating head lice. A good comb (when used properly) can eliminate up to 85 percent of the problem. Even when you think you have done the job right, don't let your guard down. The life cycle of lice is three weeks, so keep checking during that time period.

Does a case of head lice ever go away without intervention?

Lice nearly always continue to multiply and to spread to others. Only on a rare occasion would a case of head lice go away by itself.

What is the shepherd method™?

The shepherd method™ is a safe, non-toxic, strand-by-strand method of nit removal developed by katie shepherd. Shepherd founded lice solutions rn, inc. As a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 tax exempt organization whose mission is to provide community awareness, individual and group screenings and complete nit removal.

House Cleaning and Hygiene

Do lice prefer clean or dirty hair?

Head lice find it easier to move around on a clean head of hair, however, that does not mean that an individual with dirty hair won't get lice. Head lice feed on blood and as long as we have blood, we are at risk.

Does having head lice mean that person lives in a dirty home or has poor hygiene?

Absolutely not! Getting a case of lice has nothing to do with the cleanliness of one's home or body. Lice are spread by direct contact. They do not live away from the head, so whether a house is clean or dirty makes no difference.

How much cleaning is necessary when my child has head lice?

Concentrate only on items that had direct contact with individuals suffering from head lice during the past 24 hours. Wash clothes and linens in warm water and put in dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.

I've heard the worst part of head lice is all the cleaning. Is this true?

Cleaning is overemphasized. The parent's time is better spent on the child's head, as well as communicating with the child’s closest friends.

School Policy

If my child has head lice, should i tell the school nurse?

Absolutely tell the school nurse! If the nurse isn’t informed, she can't work with you to identify other possible sources. Be willing to communicate with your child’s school to minimize the chance of getting lice again and again.

Whom should i notify if my child has lice?

Everyone who has had contact with the child in at least the last two weeks, and preferably, during the past month should be notified. Contacts should include the school nurse, daycare director, camp counselor, or other individuals in the position to assist you in notifying and checking those that your child has had contact with.

What is a live-bug-only policy?

A live-bug-only policy means that whether the child has nits or not, the child can go to class as long as no one sees adult lice on the child's head. But lice are hard to spot; you could be looking right at a bug and not see it.

What is a no nit policy?

A school with a no nit policy excludes children with nits from school. While the nit pickers supports the no nit policy, we also believe that it needs some modifications, as one nit generally means that the child must leave school. We believe that when the nurses have searched thoroughly and found one or two nits, they start to pull them and allow the children to return to class. However, the nurse should recheck the child at least every three to four days for the next three weeks to ensure no further contact exists and the child is truly past it. It is not a matter of whether a bug or a nit was on the head first, because a nit only exists if a bug has been on the head.

Health Insurance

Does my health insurance pay for lice removal?

Some insurance companies will cover these services as part of your health plan. Upon completion of treatment, we will provide a claim form for you to submit to your insurance provider for possible reimbursement. These services, if covered by your insurance company, will be considered out of network and subject to any deductibles you have with them.