What parents need to know about head lice
Sharing is caring right? That’s what friends do. But what happens when sharing turns into one of your worst nightmares – lice! At some point, your child may share a common item with a friend such as a ball cap, hair accessory, brush, or even a sports helmet. If the child they are borrowing an item from happens to have head lice, chances are that infestation will pass on to your child too.
An outbreak of head lice can be an uncomfortable experience for children. When this condition transpires, a presence of adult louse live on your child’s scalp, feed exclusively on their blood and actively lay eggs in their hair. Our experienced pediatricians are here to diagnose your child with head lice, and support them with the best possible treatment plan. Learn more about your options for removing nits and how to help your child achieve a healthy scalp again.
Understanding head lice
Ultimately, all it takes for an infestation to take place in your child’s hair is two adult lice (louse). These insects survive solely from human blood and make a home on the scalp. Nits are the eggs laid in their hair by adult lice, which if not dealt with can create an uncomfortably itchy sensation on your child’s head. Head lice is a condition found to be very common in childhood and can truly happen anytime and anyplace, to anyone. Unfortunately, this is an extremely contagious condition that can quickly spread to others in the home, even adults. So, it’s best to treat right away to prevent the whole household from experiencing the same condition, and to prevent infection and sores from frequent scratching.
Often difficult to see with the naked eye, adult lice lay small microscopic eggs that attach to the hair follicle. Without the proper treatment these tiny eggs can be extremely hard to get rid of, resulting in a larger nuisance for you and your child to experience. After thoroughly treating the hair with a specially formulated lice removal shampoo, you will then want to proceed to remove the nits. If your child happens to have a sensitivity or allergy to the chemicals in the treatment, you can try a more natural oil-based product such as tea tree oil, olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise or another essential oil. These eggs need to be completely lifted from the hair follicle using a fine-toothed comb. With any lice removal treatment kit you purchase, it’s extremely important to follow all instructions. This method helps to ensure the eggs don’t hatch in your child’s hair and prevents further infestation.
Will they come back?
There is a possibility of the lice infestation returning or a remaining active lice presence in the hair if the first treatment method fails. Another factor of an unsuccessful treatment is if their commonly used items at home were not properly cleaned once the lice outbreak occurred. If you observe the same lice activity as before (and spot no dead lice), additional treatment will be necessary. In this scenario, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician to ensure the most effective pediculicide is used, and in the proper amount of time for optimal results. Continue checking their hair every several days with a fine-toothed comb to make sure the lice infestation is terminated.
How to proceed with treatment
Anyone in the house and others close to your child need to be checked for head lice as well. These insects can also be transferred by sharing pillows, clothing, bed linens bookbags or other wearable and similar items, so be sure to launder these in extremely hot water. If others in the home are infected too, all should be treated for head lice simultaneously.
Here's what you need:
- Over-the-counter lice removal shampoo, RID or Nix are recommended
- A fine-toothed comb (look for a nit comb)
- If you see poor results with over-the-counter shampoo, a lice removal shampoo prescribed by a pediatrician is the next best option
- To terminate any lice leftover, be sure to seal any toys or items used by your child in plastic bags for at least 2-3 weeks
- Thoroughly vacuum all rugs and carpeted areas usually occupied by the child and any furniture the child sleeps in or sits on such as in the bedroom or living room
Help is on the way
If at-home treatments are unsuccessful, the head lice will return. We know head lice is not a severe or harmful condition, but we want your child to remain healthy and stay lice-free!
If you need help with lice, schedule an appointment!