The School Nurse Lice Battle Plan

Part 5: Head Lice Anatomy

Lice are tough little critters. They are well designed for the human head with their claws and grasping appendages. Learning more about some of the louse’s anatomy will help you understand the reasons for the steps in Nurse Kevin’s Lice Battle Plan.

We’ll mainly discuss the insect’s respiratory system. Understanding the respiratory system will help you understand why the olive oil treatments are not only necessary but why so olive oil treatments are necessary.

The louse does not have lungs but more of a tracheal system that brings air (oxygen) into the louse through 12 air holes called spiracles. These spiracles are located on three of the louse’s segmented torso and are very small. They also have valves over the spiracles that allow the bug to protect its airway while submerged in liquid. The bug has a very low oxygen requirement and can survive under water for up to 12 hours. Basically, the 6 "hands" this critter has isn't enough to cover its "mouth" when it sneezes.

Speaking of a mouth, the louse has a mouth with Prestomal Teeth (tooth-like appendages surrounding the mouth of the louse). These "little teeth" that rotate and grab the skin. Some have described the teeth as being similar to a rotary saw that drive into the dermis to anchor the louse mouth parts in the skin so the stylettes pierce the skin and search for a vessel to feed from. Once a suitable blood vessel is found and the insect’s stylettes have pierced the skin, “sucking” occurs to pull the blood meal around the piercing stylettes and into the bug’s mouth.

Keep in mind that what goes in...must come out. Lice poop. Period! End of discussion! They suck your blood and poop it out.

Question: How much poop on your head is acceptable? We’ll answer that later...



RID contains pyrethrum and NIX contains permethrin. But what does that mean? Is one better than the other at killing lice and what about all those eggs?


You’ve found lice on a head in your home. WHAT THE HECK!? Okay, don’t sweat. You’ve got this. Read this LICE BATTLE PLAN and get them bugs gone!!


Learn more about lice. You have an 2-3% chance of lice coming into your home this year. The more you know about these pests the better prepared you’ll be.

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