Treating Head Lice

March 18, 2017

NO parent want to deal with their child having head lice.

Even though it occurs all year, head lice cases seem to increase significantly during the fall when kids return to school and again in January after the Christmas Break.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports between 6 to 12 million cases of head lice occurring each year in the United States in children between the ages of 3 and 11. Preschool children, elementary school children and children around people with lice are especially prone to getting head lice.

Despite the stereotypes, head lice are not a result of improper hygiene habits. They tend to spread by direct head-to-head contact with others who have head lice. Also, you can’t get head lice from pets because they only feed on humans.

Blood-Sucking Bugs

Head lice look like tan, white or gray sesame seed-size bugs that latch on the skin of the head and lay eggs in the hair.

Part your child’s hair to see if your child has lice. A magnifying glass will reveal them—especially the nits. Since the bugs are always on the move, you can spot them by the presence of nits. These nits look a lot like dandruff but are not movable like dandruff is when you pick up a hair strand and run your fingernail across the area.

Head Lice Prevention Strategies

  • Teach your children about preventing heat-to-head contact while playing and interacting and about avoiding sharing headgear with other children (like sharing hats, scarves, towels, combs, brushes, bandannas, hair ties and bows, headphones, helmets and other sports uniform items.
  • Disinfect combs and brushes used by a person with head lice by letting them soak in hot water (at least 130°F) between 5–10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on pillows, carpets, beds, couches or stuffed animals that have been used by a person with head lice.
  • Items infected by people with head lice need to cleaned within 48 hours before treatment has begun. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items using hot water (130°F) and a high temperature drying heat cycle. Get items that can’t be washed dry-cleaned or sealed in plastic and put away for two weeks.
  • All furniture and floors where the person may have laid down or sat need to be vacuumed. Keep in mind that the lice cannot feed off a scalp, they will die within one to two days.
  • You don’t have to use insecticides to control the spread of lice.

After a week of head lice treatment has passed, check everyone in the house for any remaining lice. If more are found, consult a health care provider for further suggestions.

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