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What's the difference between head lice and nits?

Head lice are the insects themselves, while nits are the egg cases of head lice that have hatched. Nits remain stuck to the hair shaft until the hair grows out or they are physically removed. Nits can be found for weeks or months even after the head lice themselves have all been cleared. Their presence does not necessarily mean you have head lice; you can only be sure you have head lice if you can find living, moving lice. Never treat nits unless you can find living lice.

Head lice are not able to live if they are not on a person's head. They will die 3 days after they have been off the head.

Detection combing is the best way to find head lice. This is an important first step before beginning the treatment.

Inform your child's school. Contact everyone your child has been in close sustained, head-to-head contact with recently. This should include grandparents, babysitters, friends and family. Advise everyone to check for head lice and seek treatment from their pharmacist if live lice are found.

No. Lice live close to the scalp so cutting your child's hair won't make any difference.

You can help to avoid infestation by braiding or tying up your child's long hair. Tell your children not to exchange clothes, brushes, hats, helmets or bathing caps when head lice are detected in your environment. Your own early detection work can make head lice manageable. Parents who regularly comb and check their children's hair, are ideally placed to spot head lice. This helps to keep the rest of the family free from infection. If a louse is found, carefully follow the advice on checking the family and on treatment that will ensure the problem is solved.

There are often no symptoms of a head lice infection. However, an itchy scalp can be the result of sensitivity to head lice saliva.

An outbreak is often fueled by rumors, rather than a real head lice infection epidemic. It's true to say that at any one time, most schools will only have a few children with active living head lice. This can be between 2-5%. This doesn't qualify as being of epidemic proportions. People perceive head lice as a much bigger problem than they really are due to the effect of rumors. When head lice are mentioned, you may automatically start to feel the itching.

You can seek advice from the local school nurse, your pharmacist, or doctor.

Anyone can get head lice, although it is more common among children. Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact or through the sharing of clothing (scarf, hats, etc.). Young children tend to have closer contact. That is why the (primary) school is a typical place where lice are more easily spread. At any one time, most schools will have a few children with active living head lice.

You can do this by judging how many centimeters from the scalp you find the nits. Nits are laid near the scalp. Hair grows at about one centimeter a month. Therefore a nit 2 cm from the scalp was laid about 2 months ago. You cannot find live lice and the nearest nit to the scalp is 1 cm down the hair shaft? Then the infection has been cleared for one month, but you might still find the empty egg cases as they are difficult to remove.