Lice are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. Lice spread easily through close contact and are common among school children or people who live in close quarters. They can occur regardless of personal hygiene. Lice can affect the head and scalp, body, or pubic region.

Signs and symptoms of lice include:

  • Intense itching of the scalp or genital area
  • A tickling sensation of the scalp or hair
  • Visible lice on clothing, scalp, or body hair
  • Sores on the scalp or neck
  • Bite marks on the waistline, groin, upper thighs, or pubic area
  • Nits (eggs) stuck to the hair

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Because children are in close contact in school or child care settings controlling the spread of lice is very difficult. This is not a reflection of cleanliness and does not mean hygiene is poor. You can teach your children the following to limit the spread of lice:

  • Avoid head to head contact when possible
  • Don’t share belongings like hats, scarves, combs, brushes, headphones
  • Avoid sharing spaces in lockers to hang clothing or hats

Over-the-counter lice treatment products are readily available; however, lice may sometimes be resistant to these treatments. If this is the case, a healthcare provider will prescribe a topical or oral medication to treat lice. In addition to these treatments, you’ll need to remove nits from all clothing, bedding, furniture and thoroughly clean all areas. For items that cannot be laundered in hot soapy water, seal them in an airtight bag for at least two weeks.