Head Lice

Lice are small, grayish-tan, wingless insects that live in the hair, feeding off the scalp. If your child comes home with head lice, don’t panic. Millions of children contract lice each year. Children play in close contact with one another and exchange things such as hats, clothing, brushes, combs, pillows, and other personal items which can result in transmitting head lice from one child to another. They can be easily and effectively treated with cream rinse or shampoos to kill the lice and their eggs (nits).

To examine for head lice, carefully examine the hair and scalps of all family members for lice and their eggs. While the lice are small, grayish-tan, wingless insects that you can see on the scalp or one of the hair shafts, the lice eggs (nits) are small, white specks which are found firmly attached to the hair shafts, usually close to the scalp. These are usually found at the nape of the neck and behind the ears.

If you find lice or nits, again don’t panic. This is not an emergency situation. Nix Cream Rinse can be purchased over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. Follow the directions on the package and do not repeat treatment more frequently than every 7 days. After using the cream rinse or shampoo and drying the hair thoroughly, the nits may be removed with a special nit comb. Combing to remove the nits is not absolutely necessary, but should be done for cosmetic reasons. Some schools have a no nit policy, which prevents children from returning to school until their hair and scalp reveals no nits. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not feel this is necessary.

Prevent the Spread of Lice

To prevent spreading lice from one person to another, make sure people with head lice do not share articles such as combs, brushes, towels, hats, scarves, pillows, etc., that have come in contact with their head, neck, or shoulders. Use hot water to wash lice-exposed clothing, towels, and bed linens. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes. Dry clean hats and clothing that cannot be washed or seal them in a plastic bag for at least two weeks. Vacuum carpets, upholstery, pillows, and mattresses, which may have been exposed to the person with head lice.

Lice Symptoms & Treatment

Be on the lookout for signs that indicate that other members of your family have been infected or that the child has become infected again. The most common symptom is severe itching on the back of the neck and head.

Follow the directions carefully on the over-the-counter products to remove lice, especially for the frequency of application of shampoo. As these head lice medications have been used for some time, some resistant head lice strains are out there. If after following the directions on the package lice are still alive, then an application of thickly applied mayonnaise or olive oil overnight with a plastic shower cap over the hair should smother them. Wash out the application in the morning and again comb nits out with a fine toothed comb.

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