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How to Avoid Catching Head Lice

Where Am I Most Likely to Find Head Lice?

Lice and nits are usually found exclusively on the scalp, particularly behind the ears and near the neckline. Although it's uncommon, they can also be found in the eyebrows or eyelashes. Lice hold tightly to hair with hook-like claws. The nits are practically cemented on the hair shaft and can be difficult to remove.

Who Is Most at Risk for Getting Lice?

Contrary to popular belief, personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice. They can infest anyone, but are most commonly found among preschool children who attend childcare and in elementary school-aged children. It's estimated that 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year among children age 3 to 11 years old in the United States.
In the United States, head lice are less common in African Americans than in people of other races. This is likely due to differences in the shape and width of the hair shaft.
However, anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who has head lice is at greatest risk. This is the most common way to become infested. Although lice can be spread by contact with clothing or other personal items, this is rare.

What Are Possible Signs of Head Lice?

Even if you do weekly head checks on your family, there may be a louse that sneaks in. If your child or other family member is showing certain signs of a lice infestation, it may be time to take a closer look. Some of the possible signs include:
  • A tickling feeling that feels like something is moving in the hair
  • Head itching, which is caused by an allergic reaction to the lice bites
  • Problems sleeping or irritability (lice are more active in the dark)
  • Sores on the head, which are caused by the person scratching.
If you are seeing any of these signs, take the time to check for lice or nits. If you find evidence of lice, they need to be treated. Also, your home will need to be treated and other family members will need to be checked as well.
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