Headlice info

November 2007


Dear Parents:  

That perennial nuisance, the head louse and its nits, has returned.  We have had just a couple of cases reported and they have been treated.  Head lice are actually far less transmissible than commonly believed.  They do not fly or jump.  Lice are usually spread by head to head contact.  Infrequently they can be transferred by shared combs, hats or hair accessories.  They may also remain on bedding and upholstered furniture for a brief period.  With out ready access to a person’s blood, lice cannot survive more than a day or two at room temperature.


Lice are “equal opportunity” parasites.  Their presence is not related to uncleanliness.  They do not pose any health threat.  They can, however, be a very time consuming annoyance to deal with, so parental vigilance is a tremendous help.


Here is a review of head lice information and how to detect them:

  • Head louse (bug) is 2-4 mm long, the size of a sesame seed, grayish brown color
  • Nits (eggs) are the size of a grain of sand, tear drop shaped, grayish white and “glued” to the hair shaft – will not brush off
  • Lice move quickly when exposed to light
  • Itching of the scalp is often the first complaint (but can also be due to dry skin or mosquito bites)
  • Nits hatch in approximately 8 days and reach adult stage 9-12 days later (for this reason many commercial treatments recommend a second treatment about 10 days after the first)
  • Nits are often more numerous at the nape of the neck and around the ears

If you detect head lice on your child or are unsure what to look for, please contact me.  I will maintain confidentiality, but be aware that the children often discuss the problem openly with their peers. An excellent article on the subject of head lice and its treatment can be found at: www.hsph.harvard.edu/headlice


Thanks for your help!



 Maddy Allen 

HOM School Nurse