Head Lice

The Iowa Department of Public Health recommends a 14-day treatment process. You may use over-the-counter products. They are safe. Mark your calendar to help you keep track of treatment.

What does head lice look like?

Since adult lice are the size of a sesame seed (2-3mm), head lice can be seen by the human eye. They live in human hair, draw blood from the skin, and lay eggs (called nits) on the hair shaft. Live nits are found less than 1/2 inch from the scalp and most often on hair at the back of the head in the neck region. Some children with lice complain of itchiness but many have no symptoms.

Is your child at risk?

Yes. Head lice will spread as long as children play together. They spread almost completely through human hair to hair contact, and pets do not spread lice. Anyone can get head lice. Children in child care, preschools, elementary or middle schools are at risk. Head lice are NOT a sign of being dirty. Head lice are not dangerous and DO NOT spread diseases.

What about school?

There is no need for children to be sent home or to miss school, though treatment should be started before returning to school the next day School officials should ask parents to check their children’s hair at least weekly.

What can you do?

Parents are the key to looking for and treating head lice! The Iowa Department of Public Health advises parents to spend 15 minutes each week on each child carefully looking for head lice or nits. Persons with nits within ¼ inch of the scalp OR live lice should be treated. Careful use of a nit comb can potentially remove all lice. Each child should have his or her own comb or brush. Teach your child NOT to share hats, scarves, brushes, combs, and hair fasteners.

To download Facts About Head Lice brochure click here.