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Head Lice

The facts on head lice

Most head louse infestations occur in school-age children; estimates of the incidence are more than 6 million Americans per year. Parents and teachers may first see evidence of lice, but a health-care professional should confirm the diagnosis.

How did my child get lice?

This occurs with direct head-to-head contact and sharing other close contact with items like hats, scarves, blankets, etc. The lice do not jump or fly, and will rarely survive off a human host for more than a day.

What are the symptoms?

      • Itching
      • Hive-like bumps that are red
      • Lice are active at night so itching may keep child awake at night.

How do I treat this condition?

The first step is an over the counter (OTC) product. It is very important to follow directions and to use a metal nit comb to remove dead lice and nits. Repeat treatment can be done eight to ten days. If the lice are still present then a health-care professional needs to re-examine the child’s head. This may require a prescription product if live lice are still seen.

What else do I need to know?

Smothering lice with mayonnaise, petrolatum, olive oil, or mineral oil are not recommended because these approaches have not been adequately studied.

It is very difficult, and time-consuming, to eliminate an infestation of lice with use of a lice comb alone. The metal comb with the OTC or prescription products are needed, as well as, excessive cleanup in the home. Scrubbing all surfaces is not necessary, but vacuuming, washing bedding, toys, blanket, items coming in contact with hair, and clothing should be washed at 130 degrees Fahrenheit or dry on high heat.

Do not use insecticide on furniture, rugs, or pets.