Adult head lice are smaller than a sesame seed and grayish-white in color. They hatch from eggs on a human scalp and feed on the blood of their host for up to nine days. Their life cycle repeats every three weeks. The most common stage is the nymph stage, which lasts about eight to nine days before emerging as an adult. While head lice can live off the human host for up to two days, transmission from person to person is rare.
The best way to prevent lice is to prevent head-to-head contact with a person who has them. The prevention of head lice starts with washing and drying personal items thoroughly. Children should avoid sharing hats, stuffed animals, and other personal items. Wash personal items thoroughly in hot water, then dry them in a hot clothes dryer. It’s also a good idea to soak all hairbrushes in hot water for at least two weeks.
If you suspect that your child has head lice, you should take him or her to a health care provider to get a diagnosis. You can also use non-prescription medications and home remedies to treat the lice. You should also make sure that the health care provider is aware of the infection so that he or she can treat the child appropriately.