Head lice is a common problem during childhood. Head lice can affect anyone regardless of age, cleanliness, social or economic status. Head lice are transported from one person to another through personal items. They do not jump or fly. Lice are small, grayish tan in color. They have no wings and can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of Head Lice
Itching is the main symptom of head lice. If you suspect your child has head lice, inspect the hair thoroughly for lice. Look particularly at the hairline, near the forehead, behind the ears, and at the nape of the neck. Adult lice can be difficult to find. Lice lay egss called nits. Nits are whitish in color and can be differentiated from dandruff because they stick to the hair shaft where as dandruff flakes off.
Treatment of Head Lice
Shampoos that kill head lice can be purchased over the counter. Permethin 1%, Nix, kills head lice and nits in one application. Other shampoos, such as RID are available. Adult lice only live 48 hours away from their host, but nits can live 7-10 days. To destroy any new lice hair should be combed with a nit comb at least 5 minutes every day for two weeks. Treatment of nits that may have been transmitted to clothing, blankets and other household items is vital in preventing your child from being reinfected. All blankets, clothing, hats, scarves, and other washable items should be machine washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes. Carpets, car seats, sofas, and chairs should be thoroughly vacuumed. These areas can also be sprayed with an insecticide, however, this should be used with caution around young children. Other non-washable items can be sealed in a plastic bag for 14 days. Combs and brushes should be replaced or soaked in a lice killing solution for 1 hour.
Prevention of Head Lice
To prevent head lice, children should be taught not to share brushes, combs, hats, scarves, or hair assessories. If your child should become infected with head lice, they should be kept home from school until they are nit free. Head lice should be treated promptly and thoroughly using the guidelines above to prevent the transmission to other children.