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Head lice are tiny bugs that can live in your hair and on your head. Live lice are tan to greyish white. They're about the size of a sesame seed. It may be easiest to find them at the base of the scalp, at the bottom of the neck, and behind the ears. When you have lice, all people living in your home need to be carefully checked and then treated.
Lice eggs (nits) may be easier to see than live lice. They look like tiny yellow or white dots attached to the hair, close to the scalp. They're often easier to see than live lice. Nits can look like dandruff. But you can't pick them off with your fingernail or brush them away.
Lice aren't dangerous. They don't spread disease or have anything to do with how clean someone is. The lice may make your head itch.
Lice won't go away without treatment. You can treat lice and their eggs with prescription or over-the-counter medicines. After treatment, your skin may still itch for a week or more. This is because of your body's reaction to the lice.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: July 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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