Head Lice Myths and Facts
Louse (lice - plural):
* parasitic insect that lives only on the scale hair of humans
* can be found crawling anywhere in the hair
* about the size of a sesame seed, but can grow larger
* do not spread disease or cause illness
* the eggs of lice that attached to the hair, close to the scalp
* colorless, white or very light tan
* about the size of a poppy seed
* attach to hair shaft and do not move - difficult to remove
Myth 1: Head lice can fly or jump from head to head.
Fact 1: Lice cannot jump to get onto another head. They also cannot fly because they do not have wings. Lice are spread from close head-to-head contact. Head lice are rarely transferred on a shared comb, brush, hat, headphones, helmet, or jacket. Pets cannot get or transmit human lice.
Myth 2: Children with nits or eggs can spread lice and should be excluded from school.
Fact 2: Eggs or nits are cemented to hair shafts and cannot move. They are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people. The El Paso Independent School District does not have a “no nit” policy – children are not excluded from school for having nits. This procedure is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of School Nurses, among others.
Myth 3: I can treat head lice with a home remedy.
Fact 3: Home remedies ranging from mayonnaise to kerosene to store-bought pesticides can be ineffective, dangerous, and potentially harmful. It is best to use an over-the-counter or prescription medication specifically designed to addres lice (usually a special hair wash medication). The website www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice has more information on additional measure to address head lice.
Myth 4: Only children who do not bathe regularly or live in unclean homes get lice.
Fact 4: Anyone can get lice, no matter how clear the hair or home. They like clean hair as well as dirty hair and can flourish in even the wealthiest communities.
Myth 5: We should identify the kid that keeps giving everyone lice and send him or her home from school.
Fact 5: When lice is going around the community, it’s not one family or child’s fault. If your child has lice, your child has probably infected others without knowing – just as your child was probably unknowingly infected by someone else in the first place. Kids can have lice and spread lice without parents or teachers seeing symptoms like itching.
Myth 6: Everyone should be checked for lice regularly at school and all parents should be notified of the results.
Fact 6: Frequently checking every child for lice is not cost or time effective. It would result in a lot of missed educational time. In addition, the school will never disclose the health information of children to other classmates or parents by naming which children have lice or nits. This information is shared only with the children’s guardians. Our goal is to protect the health of students while avoiding unnecessary embarrassment of students and protecting students’ privacy.
Myth 7: If my child has lice, they must have gotten it at school.
Fact 7: Head-to-head contact is not very common during normal classroom activities, as children are mostly sitting separately at tables or desks. Since lice cannot jump or fly, normal classroom activities are not an ideal situation for lice transmission.
If you would like more information on head lice, such as how to check for or treat lice, please use these trusted websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Click to go to the CDC's Head Lice Information Page
Click to go to the WebMD Lice Information Page