Head lice: what to look out for

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With the start of school just around the corner, health experts are warning of an increase in head lice.

Actual size of the three lice forms compared to a penny. (CDC Photo)

Local nurses say that head lice is a common problem and that it is nothing to freak out about and they also dispelled some of the common myths of head lice.

One of the common myths of head lice is that they jump from head to head.

According to a nurse from HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, this is false as lice do not jump. they crawl, which means that direct contact is required to spread head lice.

Tessa Uncer, an RN at HSHS Sacred Heart, also said that there is no such thing as a lice infestation, once the lice are removed from the hair; they typically only survive one to two days due to external temperatures and lack of blood supply.

"Even pets, cats, dogs, they are not going to be spreading lice to other people in the family either,” Uncer said. “The main thing is that it is going to stay on the person. Lice typically will only stay on the hair, they only like hanging on to the hair shaft."

Uncer also said that it is not just kids with bad hygiene that get lice, she said that all kids have an equal chance at getting lice due to the fact that children typically have more direct contact with one another.

Another common misconception is that people have to disinfect their entire house after finding out someone in the household has lice.

Uncer said that this is also false.

“If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that they use, you don’t have to wash it several times,” she said. “Just place the item in a plastic bag for 48 hours and that will kill the lice because they have no blood supply”

Uncer says that some signs that your kid may have lice include: Itching behind the ears, trouble sleeping because lice are most active at night, and sores or redness on the head or neck.

She also recommends to see a family physician for treatment options.