What is Head Lice?
A head lice infestation occurs on the scalp and is caused by the head louse, an insect approximately the size of a sesame seed. Head lice are seen mostly in child care settings and among school-aged children and are highly contagious.
How Does Lice Spread?
Head lice are found worldwide and are transmitted by close body contact or sharing of items such as clothes, headwear, brushes, combs, blow-dryers and hair accessories. Head lice feed on the blood of the host. Female lice lay egg capsules (nits) attached to hair shafts.
Signs and Symptoms of Lice
Common symptoms of a head lice infestation include:
- Itching of the scalp
- Visible lice eggs (nits) and adult lice on scalp hair, behind ears and on the neck
- Visible lice in the eyebrows and eyelashes
Treatment for Lice
Head lice and their nits are highly treatable. At UCLA Dermatology, we recommend the following treatment options:
- Medicated cream rinses or shampoos such as permethrin or malathion lotion to kill adult lice and nits
- Hand removal of nits by carefully combing through hair with a fine-tooth comb
Our dermatologists also recommend the following home care:
- Soak combs and brushes in hot water with the medicated shampoo for at least 15 minutes.
- Check all household members and other close contacts for signs of head lice infestation.
- Machine wash in hot water all bedding, clothing and other washable items that the affected person has come into contact with.
- If items cannot be washed, seal them in a plastic bag for at least 2 weeks to kill lice.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (310) 825-6911.