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JAMA Patient Page
June 12, 2013

Head Lice

JAMA. 2013;309(22):2398. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4430

Head lice are tiny insects that infest the hair on your head, as well as the eyebrows and eyelashes. Tiny louse eggs called nits are tightly attached to individual hairs and live close to the scalp, where they may be difficult to see. Lice are easily spread, especially among school-aged children. Lice cannot jump or fly but are spread by direct head-to-head physical contact, sharing clothing such as hats or bedding, and sharing combs or brushes with someone who has head lice. Having head lice does not mean you have poor cleanliness. Head lice do not carry diseases.

Lice are easier to see in bright light and by parting the hair to see close to the scalp. They are also easier to see near the ears and the nape of the neck.