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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Head lice in children

Head lice in children

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Head louse are tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among hairs and fed on the blood. They are spread easily especially among the school children and through close personal contact and by sharing belongings.

They mainly spread through head to head contact sharing clothes, bed linens, combs, brushes and hats.
Head lice develop on scalp, at the nape of neck or over the ears.
Lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person, especially in groups like schools, childcare centers, camps etc.

Symptoms and signs of lice:

  • Lice eggs (nits): They are tiny yellow, tan or brown colored ones before they hatch. They are mainly seen on hair shafts.
  • Adult lice and nymphs (baby lice): The adult lice are grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller and become adult lice about 1 to 2 weeks after they hatch. Most of lice feed on blood.
  • Scratching or itching.
  • Small red bumps or sores from scratching.

Treatment:

  • Over the counter lotions or shampoos made of either Malathion or Lindane are prescribed.
  • Use fine-tooth comb to remove lice or nits by hand on the child’s wet, conditioned hair every 3 to 4 days for 2 weeks. Wetting of hair before hand is recommended because it temporarily immobilizes the lice and conditioner makes easier to get a comb through the hair.
  • Head lice will be unable to survive for long time once they fall off a person.

Prevention:

  • Wash the bed linens and clothing that was recently worn by anyone in the home who was infested with lice in hot water.
  • Soak hair care items like combs, hair ties or bands and brush using alcohol o medicated shampoo for one hour. You can wash them in hot water and throw them.
  • Tell the kids to avoid head to head contact at school, during sports or while playing.
  • Avoid sharing of combs, brushes, hats, ribbons, scarves, bands or towels.

Precautions while using anti lice medications:

  • Do not use hair dryer on the child’s head or hair after applying the scalp medications because some contain flammable ingredients.
  • Do not use a cream rinse or shampoo/conditioner combination before applying lice medication.
  • Do not use sprays or hire a pest control to try to get rid of lice as they can be harmful.
  • Do not use the same medications for more than three times on one person.
  • Do not use more than one lice medication at a time.