Monday, October 23, 2017
     

Nit   Nymph   adult louse

 

The head louse or Pediculus humanus capitis is a parasitic insect. Head lice are found worldwide. Infestation is most commen amoung preschool and school age children and the household members of infested children.  

Head lice cannot hop or fly they move by crawling. They are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person.  The lice have three forms: Nit, Nymph and adult. Nits are lice eggs and are found at the base of the hair shaft usually nearest the scalp. Nits are firmly attached to the hair shaft and are oval shaped and very small and hard to see. Nits often appear yellow or white although live nits are sometimes the same color of the hair.  Nits are often confused with dandruff. Head lice nits usually take about 8-9 days to hatch. A nymph is an immature louse that hatches from the nit. To live the nymph must feed on blood. Nymphs mature into adults about 9-12 days from hatching. The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed and has sick legs and is tn to grayish in color. adult louse also must feed on blood to live.They have claws on their legs that look like this: which help them to hold tightly to the hair shaft. Head lice and nits are found almost exclusively on the scalp particurlarly behind the ears and near the neckline. They are most active in the dark and the most common symptoms is itching and sores on the head from scratching. Head to head contact is most common way of transfer but though uncommon, the sharing of clothes and belongings where head lice can crawl onto these items and be transferred can occur.  Dogs, cats and pets do NOT play a role in the spread of head lice.

The health department provides head checks when requested by an adult for themselves or their children. The health department staff will be happy to work with families to let the school know of any head lice problems or specific situations as needed. We also work with schools should an outbreak occur and can discuss with parents the best way to treat the head and household belongings.  You do not need an appointment for a head lice check. There is a charge for  a nurse visit.