Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that live on your head. They are grayish white or tan and are about the size of a sesame seed. Their eggs, or nits, look similar to dandruff, but they do not fall off as easily. They are attached to your hair close to the scalp and are difficult to detect by sight. To see if your child has head lice, part his or her hair into small sections and examine the scalp for moving lice. You can also look for eggs on your child’s hair. If you see any of them, take action immediately.
Although the lice are difficult to see, you can often feel them moving on your scalp. Some people even notice a tickling sensation. The tickling sensation is caused by the lice’s saliva, which is a irritant. The irritation from lice can cause a red rash, itching, and bumps on the skin.
Head lice spread via head-to-head contact with hair of infected people. The most common way to catch head lice is by having head-to-head contact with an infected person, but they can also be spread through shared items and clothing. If you suspect that you or your child has head lice, it is a good idea to get your hair checked by a trained professional as soon as possible.
While the CDC does not regulate school head lice, you should look for guidelines and recommendations by your local school board. Head lice are not dangerous, but they can cause itching, sleep deprivation, and over-scratching, which can increase the risk of secondary skin infections.