Lice and nits are tiny parasites that can infest the scalp. They are most commonly spread through contact with an infected person, but can also be transmitted through shared objects or clothing. Lice feed on blood and can cause severe irritation and itching in the scalp. Nits are the eggs of lice, and they attach to the hair shaft very securely. They are very difficult to remove, and often require the use of a special nit comb. If you suspect that you or your child has nits or lice in the scalp, it is important to seek treatment right away.
Symptoms Of Lice/Nits in the Scalp
The most common symptom is an itchy scalp, and visible nits or live lice in the hair. Other common symptoms include:
Causes of Itching in the Scalp/Lice/Nits in the Scalp
Head Lice / Pediculosis Capitis: Lice feed on blood and can survive up to two days off the head. They lay eggs, or nits, on hair shafts close to the scalp. The nits hatch in about one week and the lice mature and reproduce in another week. Lice cannot fly or jump.
There are many causes of head lice, but the most common is person-to-person contact. Head lice are not caused by poor hygiene and they are not a sign of being dirty. Anyone can get lice on the scalp, including children and adults of all ages, races, and religions. Lice mostly spread through:
Less often, lice may spread through:
What are the treatment options for lice/nits in the scalp?
Oral and Topical Medications:
Most lice/nits in the scalp are treated with over-the-counter topical medication. If the infestation is more severe, an oral medication may be prescribed. It is important to follow the directions carefully and to reapply the treatment as directed, even if all of the lice/nits appear to be gone. Failure to do so may result in a reinfestation.
Oral medications for head lice treatment include anti-louse shampoos, pills, and lotions. Topical medications include over-the-counter and prescription creams, lotions, and shampoos. Some treatments are available as a combination of oral and topical medications. Consult a healthcare professional if you are unsure which treatment is best for your situation.