Common signs and symptoms of head lice may include:

  • Intense itching. An allergic reaction to the saliva that lice inject during feeding may result in itchy red bumps on your scalp, neck and shoulders. Some people, particularly if this is their first infestation, don't experience itching.
  • Adult lice on scalp. The most common spots to find adult lice are behind your ears and along the back of your neck. Lice are tiny, about the size of a strawberry seed, but they can be up to 1/8 inch (3 millimeters) in size.
  • Lice eggs (nits) on hair shafts. Nits resemble tiny pussy willow buds. Nits can be mistaken for dandruff, but unlike dandruff, they can't be easily brushed out of hair.

When to see a doctor

Usually you can get rid of lice by using nonprescription shampoo that's specifically formulated to kill lice. However, if nonprescription shampoo doesn't kill the lice, your doctor can prescribe a stronger, prescription shampoo.

Jun. 01, 2011