What are the Signs of Head Lice in Children?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2018
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Usually, the first sign of head lice in children is when they constantly scratch their heads. Little, red bumps on a child’s scalp and surrounding areas might also indicate a case of head lice. In addition, a very close look at the child’s scalp might reveal head lice, in any of their forms of development.

These very small insects thrive on the scalp and ingest blood from their victim. When these pests bite into the scalp, it causes intense itchiness. There are three stages of head lice that might be found on a person’s scalp: adult, nymph and egg. When carefully searching a child’s scalp for signs of head lice, a person might discover adults and nymphs moving around. A person might also take notice of eggs, also called nits, which are attached to individual strands of hair.

Considering the circumstances in which head lice spread, the discovery of head lice in children is common. The insects are wingless and do not fly or jump; they spread through direct contact. Children often spend much time in close quarters, such as when playing or in school, which facilitates the spread of head lice. In addition, head lice live and feed exclusively on humans and cannot survive for longer than two days if they fall off. Within these two days, fallen head lice can spread to others through contaminated items such as combs, pillows and stuffed animals.


Personal hygiene and social status have nothing to do with who contracts head lice. Children are generally at the most risk because of the frequency of their close proximity to each other. This might make it hard for schools to entirely control any infestations since head lice in children is not unusual. Girls should be very aware if an infestation does occur since they are more apt than boys to contract head lice. Preventative measures include not sharing personal belongings and not coming into close contact with someone who is known to have head lice.

The situation of head lice in children is pesky but treatable through both over-the-counter and prescription medication. Applying special lotions or shampoos to hair can kill head lice. In addition, a fine-tooth comb can help remove eggs and lice from a child’s scalp. Also, cleaning a contaminated environment by washing clothes in hot water or vacuuming the floor will help to get rid of any stray eggs or lice. To ensure that the pests are gone, it is a good idea to check and re-check treated hair over a period of about two to three weeks for signs of a re-infestation.



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