Head Lice | Cerro Gordo

Head Lice




The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health provides free head lice checks and education to children residing in Cerro Gordo County.


What are head lice?headlice

Also called Pediculus humanus capitis (peh-DICK-you-lus HUE-man-us CAP-ih-TUS), head lice are parasitic insects found on the heads of people. Having head lice is very common.


What do head lice look like?

There are three forms of lice: the nit, the nymph, and the adult.

  1. Nit: Nits are head lice eggs. They are hard to see and are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. Nits are found firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval and usually yellow to white. Nits take about 1 week to hatch.
  2. Nymph: The nit hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult head louse, but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about 7 days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
  3. Adult: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white. In persons with dark hair, the adult louse will look darker. Females lay nits; they are usually larger than males. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If the louse falls off a person, it dies within 2 days.


Where are head lice most commonly found?

On the scalp behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck. Head lice hold on to hair with hook-like claws found at the end of each of their six legs. Head lice are rarely found on the body, eyelashes, or eyebrows.


What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?

  • Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair.
  • Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the bites.
  • Irritability.
  • Sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected.


How did my child get head lice?

  • By contact with an already infested person. Contact is common during play at school and at home (slumber parties, sports activities, at camp, on a playground).
  • By wearing infested clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons.
  • By using infested combs, brushes, or towels.
  • By lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or stuffed animal that has recently been in contact with an infested person.


Other important head lice facts:

  • Head lice are not dangerous and DO NOT spread diseases.
  • Head lice cannot jump from person to person.
  • Head lice spread almost completely through human hair-to-hair contact.
  • Pets do not spread lice.
  • Your child can stay in school or daycare, but it is important to start treatment as soon as possible.
  • Careful use of a nit comb can potentially remove all lice.
  • Use of oils, mayonnaise, lotions, creams, and vinegar has not proven effective; kerosene, gasoline, and similar products do not work and are very dangerous!


What can you do to prevent head lice?
The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health advises parents to spend 15 minutes each week one each child carefully looking for head lice or nits.



Head Lice Treatment Instructions

For more information regarding head lice or to inquire about head lice treatment, please contact Bethany at 641-421-9322 or bbjorklund@cghealth.com