Head Lice Basics


Lice Prevention Information

       Tips/Hair Styles/Products

Lice Treatment Information
        For lice treatment info see 
          our Lice Treatment page.
Home Cleaning Instructions

     Home/Furniture/Cleaning Tips

Head Lice Basics:

I. Lice Identification

An adult louse is 2-3 mm in length and appears brown in color. They are wingless insects with six legs and a large abdomen. Lice eggs, also called "nits", are about 1 mm in length and also appear brown in color. Eggs that have hatched or died turn white or clear and are called "nit casings". Nits and nit castings are always firmly attached to the hair. Viable lice and nits are brown in color. Empty lice egg shells are off-white in color and are called nit casings. Baby lice can sometime appear clear or reddish-brown in color. 

II.  Lice Symptoms

The most common symptom of head lice is itching on the head. Similar to mosquitos and fleas, lice bites can cause irritation and itching. Some people are more allergic to bites than others so the severity of itching can differ from person to person. Another symptom of a more advanced infestation is a "crawling" feeling on the scalp. Finding evidence of lice during early stages of infestation may be difficult.  

IV. Lice Pictures

Lice Prevention Information

I. Lice Prevention Tips

Lice do not jump or fly.  The most common ways lice are transmitted is though physical contact, sharing furniture and sharing hair/head accessories. The best prevention is to wear the hair up off of the shoulders or in a braided pony tail or bun with Hair Bears Prevention Spray or Repel Gel on the outside of the hair.  For short hair, avoid physical head-to-head contact and apply repellent products.

II.  Hair Styles

Long, thick and clean hair is the ideal environment for head lice.  Head lice grab on to single strands of hair; long flowing hair that touches others is the most likely to pick up head lice.  For long hair, a bun or braided pony tail is the best hair style for like prevention.  Head lice can not reproduce in hair that is less then 1/2" long.   

III. Products

The best form of prevention is applying a combination of oils to the hair that are offensive to lice. These come in the form of a spray, gel, shampoo and conditioner.  Using daily prevention products and wearing your hair in a recommended style can greatly reduce your chance of picking up lice.  

Home Cleaning Instructions

During treatment it is important to have your surroundings properly cleaned. A louse can live without a human host for 1-2 days. Lice eggs require heat and will not hatch if fallen from the scalp.  Head lice do not generally leave the scalp until a moderate to severe infestation occurs.  

Bedding: Sheets, blankets, and pillow cases, should be put in the dryer for 30-40 minutes on high heat. (washing optional)

Couch: Vacuum and cover with sheet or blanket for 2-3 days. 

Hair Accessories: Freeze (4+ hours), or submerge in diluted disinfectant for 1 hour, or leave unused for 2-3 days.

Clothing: All clothing worn in last 2-3 days should be put in drier for 30-40 minutes on high or not used for 2-3 days.  

Carpets: Vacuum well or do not lay down on carpet for 2-3 days. 

Car Seats:  For leather, wipe head rest with dry towel and vacuum.  For cloth seats, vacuum well and visually inspect.  For severe infestations, vacuum and cover seats with sheets or towels for 2-3 days. 

Toys: Isolate toys for 2-3 days (plastic bags optional).

Repeat all steps every 3-6 days until infestation is gone.

Cleaning Tips: 

1. Cleaning should be done after each lice treatment.  

2. Don't over clean. If you suspect you are still infected with lice, spend your time combing the hair with a lice comb. Most prolonged infestations occur from not removing all the eggs from the hair, not from picking up lice in the home.  

3. Don't use lice killing sprays.  Lice have become resistant to the pesticides used in these sprays.

4. Lice can only survive off of a human head for 1-2 days.  There is no need to clean anything if it is not going to be in contact with other humans for at least 2 days.     

5. Head lice can only hold onto objects with hair, cloth, or fiber.  It is not necessary to clean counter tops, hard surface floors, or wooden/plastic/metal chairs.  

Gov't. and Non-Profit  Links
Nation Pediculosis Association 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Department of Health Promotion and Education

​          A.  Adult Head Lice                                     B. Nits and Nit Casings                        C. Adult lice and nymphs
By Nit Control Lice Company