Summer break means sports teams and sleepaway camp, and whenever kids are in close quarters, lice can become a problem. Read on as the pediatricians at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic cover everything you need to know about head lice symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Head Lice Symptoms
While there are several head lice symptoms, the most common is extreme itchiness of the scalp, which is often accompanied by red bumps or the appearance of lice or lice eggs. Before moving forward with lice treatment, you’ll want to be sure that your child has lice and is not just experiencing similar symptoms for a different skin condition.
Checking Your Child for Lice
Water slows down lice and makes them easier to see, so you’ll want to wet your child’s hair before checking them for head lice. Using a fine-toothed comb, part your child’s hair and shine a bright light on their scalp. Lice are brown insects the size of sesame seeds, which tend to be in motion. Lice eggs, or nits, are small white specks. Unlike dirt, lice and their eggs are hard to comb out of the hair, so if the insects can’t be easily combed out, you’re likely dealing with lice.
Head Lice Treatment
Before you decide how to treat lice in your child, you’ll want to consider all your options. One of the most common ways to treat lice is louse- and nit-combing, which is done using a metal nit comb and a dimethicone-based product such as LiceMD PesticideFree. This process can take more than an hour and is only effective if every louse and egg is properly removed.
In addition to over-the-counter methods, there are also newer topical lotions available such as Ulesfia, Natroba, and Sklice. These anti-parasite medications are available with a prescription and can be used to treat head lice quickly and effectively.
Head Lice Prevention
The best way to prevent lice is to prevent head-to-head contact during play and to discourage kids from sharing hats, helmets, scarves, hair ties, combs, brushes, and towels.
If your child contracts lice, you’ll want to follow the lice treatment methods above as well as machine washing and drying clothing, bed linens, and any other fabrics the infested person might have used or touched. If an item of clothing can’t be machine-washed, you can send it out for dry cleaning or seal it in a plastic bag for two weeks.