Win the war on lice

Mother using a comb to look for head lice. Selective focus

When lice invade your child’s scalp, you’ll be itching to get rid of them. Head lice are unpleasant for child and parent but, with a strict treatment plan, this hair-raising situation can be remedied fairly quickly.

Knowing thy enemy

Lice, medically known as Pediculosis capitis, are a tan or grayish insect about the size of a sesame seed, and can be found in human hair, behind the ears or on the back of the neck. They live on humans and feed on blood on the scalp.

Detecting head lice

  • Place your child in a well-lit room.
  • Part hair with a fine-toothed comb at the bottom center of the neck.
  • Hold a magnifying glass up to the scalp and see if you detect lice and their nits (eggs) on the scalp or hair.
  • Move around the head and continue parting hair in difference sections. If lice are present, you’ll find a louse on the comb, hair shaft or scalp.

Forming a battle plan: treatment

To win this war, you need the right tools. Your child’s pediatrician will likely recommend an over-the-counter or prescription medication.

A second treatment is often needed to kill the recently laid eggs. Always consult your child’s pediatrician for the best treatment plan, which may also include wet combing. And, while there are homeopathic treatments available, most have little to no clinical evidence of their effectiveness.

Keeping the peace: prevention

An effective way to win a war on lice is to avoid them altogether. Children shouldn’t share brushes or hair accessories, caps, headphones, towels and pillows.

Lisa Finn, mother of three, dodges lice this way: “Immediately upon learning about a classroom infestation, I use a copious amount of gel in my daughter’s hair, pull it back into a tight bun and spray her entire head with hair spray. This way her hair is sticky and still, and there’s less chance of contact with other kids’ hair.”

Helping your child acclimate back into the classroom

Your child may be reluctant to return to class after the lice is gone. Assure your child that personal hygiene has nothing to do with lice. Be understanding of your child’s concerns while arming her with information she can use to help ward off unwanted comments.

Lice are a common problem anywhere children gather. While they’re bothersome, these pesky pests are not known to spread disease and are not considered a health hazard.

If your child has lice, remember: this too shall pass.




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Bret Smith