Lice of the body

Head Lice – What Is It?

Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis, are parasites that burrow into the skin, mostly on the scalp of the head. It feeds on human blood in order to survive. They are small, wingless bugs that measure between 2 and 4 millimeters in length. They appear gray-white in color, but may look darker if they have just recently feasted on blood.

How Is It Spread?

Head lice is predominantly spread by direct contact. This includes:

  • Sharing items such as hats, combs, brushes, towels, and clothing.
  • Sleeping on a surface previously infested with lice.
  • Coming into direct contact with an individual infested with lice.

Signs & Symptoms

One of the most common signs of head lice is an intense itching sensation on the scalp. Other signs that may indicate a lice infestation include sores or bumps caused by scratching, visible eggs or nits on the scalp or hair shaft, and the physical appearance of the lice.


The most common treatment for lice is an over-the-counter-shampoo that has been specifically designed to kill the parasites. You can also purchase a lice comb, which can be used to comb through the hair to remove nits and lice. Some OTC treatments also recommend further steps, such as vacuuming furniture that was recently occupied by an infested individual.


In order to prevent lice infestation, it is important to avoid coming into contact with someone who is already infested and to avoid sharing items such as hats, combs, or brushes. It is also important to keep long hair up and out of the way of others, since long hair will have a higher risk of becoming infested.