If you suspect that your child may have head lice, it is important to treat the infestation immediately. The lice will not go away on their own and require professional treatment. It is also important to contact your child’s day care or school immediately. You should check other members of your family for lice as well, since they may have been exposed to the infected child. In the worst case scenario, you may need to treat everyone at once.
A head louse is a tiny, grayish insect that feeds on the human blood found on the scalp. It has an oval, flattened head and is about a quarter of an inch (5 millimeters) long. Female lice lay eggs on the hair shaft less than a quarter of an inch from the scalp. It takes about 6 to nine days for the eggs to hatch and grow into mature adults. Adult lice will live for about three to four weeks and lay between 6 and 10 eggs a day.
Generally, head lice are spread by close contact with other people. Children are at the greatest risk for getting them, especially if they share hair accessories. Adult head lice are much less likely to spread the disease than pubic lice. However, you should consult your doctor if you suspect you have head lice.