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National Head Lice Prevention Month

Lice are tiny insects that live on humans and feed on blood. Head lice are usually found in hair, most often on the back of the neck and behind the ears. Head lice are common in preschool and elementary school-age children. Adults can get them too, especially adults who live with children.

The most common symptom of lice is itching. There are different symptoms, depending on which type of lice you have. Head lice may not cause any symptoms at first. Itching on the scalp may start weeks or even months after lice have started to spread. Scratching can make the skin raw. The raw skin may ooze clear fluid or crust over, and it may get infected.

Head lice spread through close contact. They can't jump or fly, so they must crawl between people who are touching each other.

The most common treatment for head lice is an over-the-counter or prescription cream, lotion, or shampoo. You put it on the skin or scalp to kill the lice and eggs. In some cases, you may need treatment a second time to make sure that all the eggs are dead. If two or more treatments don't work, your doctor may prescribe a pill called ivermectin.

September 2010
Sources: HealthDay and Healthwise


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