What are the symptoms of head lice infestation in children?

If children complain of an itchy scalp or scratch their heads frequently, parents can use a magnifying glass to look for nits, which are tiny white or brown eggs that stick to the hair shaft. Contrary to popular belief, head lice do not carry disease, nor do they indicate poor hygiene. 

Lice are small, wingless, gray-tan insects. Head lice only live on humans, and anyone can get them, even with good health habits and hair washing. Head lice can be spread from one person to another by close contact or by sharing personal items. Lice lay tiny white eggs called nits that may also be seen in the hair.

They do not cause serious illness.

Your child may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tiny gray bugs in the hair. Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed.
  • Nits attached to the hair
  • Itchy scalp
  • Scalp rash

Continue Learning about Lice


Lice are parasitic insects that feed on blood and can live in peoples heads and on their bodies, including in the pubic area. Head lice often are a concern for parents of young children. Lice crawl, not hop or fly, and are spread ...

commonly through head-to-head contact. A child with lice will experience itching, difficulty sleeping, and sores on the head. The child also might feel like something is moving in his hair. Prescription and over-the-counter shampoos, plus a special comb with tight teeth, work best to kill lice and remove their eggs, called nits.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.