Frequently asked questions about head lice nc state extension publications gas finder near me


Head lice have been found on people of all socio-economic levels. Children, particularly those of elementary school age, are most likely to get head lice because of their close contact and social interactions with each other (e.g., sharing hats, combs and brushes).

Lice cause intense itching of the scalp. Parents and teachers should watch for children who scratch their heads constantly or excessively. In such cases, check the scalp for nits or lice. If you’re not sure what to look for, ask for help from someone who can positively identify the eggs or the insects.

One simple way to check for lice is to have the person hold their head over a light-colored towel. Then, brush the hair and scalp vigorously towards the towel. Dislodged lice will be found on the towel. Because infested people usually have few lice, you can easily miss finding them. It is important that you carefully and thoroughly inspect the person’s head, particularly the back of their neck and around their ears. Remember: dandruff, oil droplets in the hair and even flakes of hair spray can be confused with nits. Use a magnifying glass to help check for nits. When in doubt, consult a physician or your local health office for assistance.

They should seek help from their physician, county health department, or school nurse. The entire family needs to be examined and treated, if necessary. In the case of school-age children, notify the principal immediately. Other children in the class must be checked by a doctor, school nurse or other health official. Letters can be sent home to notify each family of the problem and the possible need for them to take measures to prevent further spread of lice to other family members. The letters should help solve the problem and should not be used to single out any child as the cause of the problem.

Shampooing with regular non-medicated shampoos can help prevent an infestation, but it will not eliminate an active one. Washable clothing, hats, head bands, bed linen, towels and other personal items (such as brushes and combs) should be washed in hot (120F or higher) soapy water, then dried in a clothes drier for at least 20-30 minutes. Woolen or other non-washable clothing can be dry-cleaned, but this additional expense can be avoided by simply isolating the articles for 1-2 days. Items such as stuffed toys do not need special treatment; however, if it make you feel more at ease, you can put them in the clothes dryer for 45-60 minutes.

Several "over-the-counter" products (pediculicides) are available to you at most drugstores and othe retail stores. Because of the extensive and repeated uses of the products containing pyrethrins and permthrin, populations of head lice are becoming resistant to their effect.

Mechanical removal of louse eggs helps reduce the number of lice that might hatch on the scalp. Even if you use Nix, the egg "shells" may remain attached to the hairs, giving the impression of an active infestation. Since children who are declared "nit-free" can return to class sooner, removing nits has a positive impact on their morale and lessens disruption to their school activities. Special combs are provided with the pediculicides and should be used according to the product instructions. Nits are more easily removed after shampooing the hair, when it is still damp.

No, vinegar will not dissolve the cement-like substance that the female louse uses to attach her eggs to the hair shaft. A nit comb is the only real reliable method for removing the eggs. Although trimming the hair is not necessary, it does makes it easier to remove all of the nits.

No, lice cannot survive for more than about 24-36 hours when removed from a person and they do not live in cracks or crevices like cockroaches or other household pests. Spraying furniture, carpets and bedding with an insecticide serves no real purpose other than providing some margin of psychological comfort. Although such sprays kill an occasional stray louse, family members who are already being treated with insecticidal shampoos would be exposed unnecessarily to additional pesticides. If anything, vacuuming carpets and furniture will remove stray lice.

The need for delousing measures in a school depend largely on the age of the students and the layout of the classroom. As in the home, vacuuming carpeting and/or sleeping mats can help. Mats with vinyl or other non-fabric coverings can be cleaned with hot, soapy water. Clothing or personal items (such as those described in question 17) that students have left in a closet, storage area or desk should be removed and deloused. Application of insecticides in the classroom is not necessary and is strongly discouraged.

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.

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