Frequently Asked Questions

General Head Lice FAQs

  • How do I know if my child has head lice?

    The most common symptom of lice infestation is itching. However, infestation may continue even after itching stops. With a first case of head lice, itching may not develop for 4 to 6 weeks. In fact, infestation may be present even if there is no itching. Some children experience no symptoms. Never initiate treatment unless there is a clear diagnosis of head lice.

  • What do lice look like?

    Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that live on the human scalp. They are about as big as sesame seeds and can be seen without magnification. However, lice eggs are about the size of poppy seeds and are difficult to see because their color easily blends in with the infested child's hair.

    Eggs are laid near the root of the hair and are attached with a glue-like substance that can't be washed or blown away. Once lice have hatched from eggs, they leave empty eggshells behind called "nits". Nits vary in color—from yellowish-brown to white and are sometimes mistaken for flakes of dandruff, sand, or flakes of hairspray.

    Learn more about lice
  • Can animals get/carry head lice?

    No. The types of lice that infest humans do not live on pets or other animals. There are other types of lice that live on animals, but these lice do not infest humans. If there is a concern that an animal may have lice, please refer to a vet for additional information. RID® is not approved for use on animals.

  • How do you contract head lice? Can lice jump from head to head?

    The most common way of getting head lice is through head-to-head contact with another infested person or by sharing personal items. Lice cannot fly or jump but they can crawl very quickly. In fact, lice are not likely to leave a healthy head unless there is a heavy infestation.

    To prevent infestation from spreading, DON'T allow head-to-head contact and DON'T share or borrow hair items (e.g., combs, headbands, etc.), headgear (e.g., hats, headphones, etc.), or other personal items.

  • Is head lice more common with dirty hair? Can disease be spread by head lice?

    The answer to both of these questions is No. Although some people may believe there is a connection between head lice and hygiene, this is not true. The truth is, personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice. Furthermore, head lice are not known to spread disease and, as such, should not be considered as a significant medical or public health hazard.