Lice Are Not Nice!

It’s one of those moments all parents dread – the head lice exposure notice tucked inside your child’s backpack. Here are some tips on lice treatment:



How do you get head lice?

They are spread by head-to-head contact so they are a fact of life for young children who play close together. Lice can’t jump or fly to another person’s head.



How do you check for lice?
  • Sit your child in a brightly lit room.
  • Part the hair and search the scalp for live lice. Nits, or eggs, appear as tiny white, oval-shaped beads, firmly attached to individual hairs. If it’s easily removed, it’s probably not a nit.
  • Comb through your child’s hair in small sections to discover and remove lice and nits.



What’s the best way to get rid of lice?

Start with an over-the-counter shampoo treatment that contains pyrethrum and piperonlyl butoxide, (RID or TripleX) or 1-percent permethrin (NIX). These chemical treatments are safe to use and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children two years and older.


While the treatments kill live lice, however, they may not kill the nits. You will need to repeat a treatment 7 to 10 days after the first treatment.


Follow theses tips for successful lice elimination:

  • Carefully follow all the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t use more of the product than recommended.
  • Don’t combine different products.
  • Don’t repeat the treatment more than twice if it doesn’t seem to be working.


Speak to your child’s doctor if your child still has lice after two treatments. Prescription treatments are available if the over-the-counter shampoo is unsuccessful.



What can I do to limit the spread of lice?
  • Wash your child’s recently worn clothes, towels, hats and bed linens in hot water and dry on high heat.
  • Make sure your child does not share clothes items or brushes. Avoid sleepovers until you know the child is lice-free.
  • Store items that can’t be washed in plastic bags for two weeks.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture.
  • Don’t spray anti-lice sprays in your home as this can expose your family to dangerous chemicals.



Can my child go back to school right away?

Yes, after one treatment.


Swati Pandya, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s West Valley Center. Advice is not intended to take the place of an exam or diagnosis by a physician. 

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