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What Are Lice?

Need to know: Lice infest regardless of social status and personal hygiene. They like CLEAN hair not dirty, as it’s easier to attach to an uncoated hair shaft.

What: small, six legged insects; size of a sesame seed
Color: grayish, whitish brown
Found: directly on the scalp
Feed: need human blood to survive
Lifecycle: can live 30 days on scalp
Not dangerous: bothersome but don’t spread disease
Symptoms: itching, irritation, small red bumps

What Is a Nit?

Need to know: Nits are lice eggs. They look like dandruff, only they can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off. They are attached to the hair shaft with a sticky nit glue.

What: small, oval sacs; size of a pin point
Color: yellow, tan or brown dots
Found: on the hair shaft about 1/4 – 1/2 inch from the scalp
Hot spots: behind the ears, nape of the neck and part lines
Lifecycle: newly hatched nymphs migrate to the scalp to feed
Timeline: 9-10 days from hatching they begin to lay their own egg

How Are Head Lice Spread?

Lice are mostly spread through head-to-head contact. Lice infest children more than adults because they have more physical contact at that age.

Lice can survive up to 36 hours off the human head on clothing and other personal items such as hats, helmets, brushes, combs, hair ties, towels and head phones. They do not fly or jump. They crawl. Lice can also survive in water as they go into a state of suspended animation. Chlorine does not kill them. Pets do not carry the same type of head lice as children.

How Do I Check for Lice?

You want to part the hair to get a good look at the scalp where lice live and feed. Start by looking at the “hot spots” which are behind the ears, at the back of neck and along the part lines. It can help to use a bright light, as they are difficult to see and fast moving.

Nits are smaller and can be mistaken for dandruff or flaky skin. They are found on the hair shaft close to the scalp and attached with a glue-like substance. The most effective method for lice checks is combing through hair with a metal nit picking comb.

Tips for Preventing Head Lice

  • Do a weekly head check. A quick check of the “hot spots” (behind the ears, back of the neck and at part lines) on a weekly basis can help prevent an outbreak.
  • Teach children NOT to share hats, combs, brushes, hair ties, pillows, sleeping bags, etc. Going to a princess party? Wipe down the tiara first. At sporting events, never share helmets or caps.
  • Keep long hair up in a ponytail or in a braid. Secure styles with styling aids.
  • At school, daycare or camp make sure to store jackets, nap mats, backpacks and hats in separate cubbies or in a sealed bag.
  • Use lice prevention hair care products every day! Organic herbs such as rosemary, tea tree and citronella found in Rosemary Repel™ Hair Care are proven safe, gentle and effective to help prevent head lice.