Keep lice off your child's head

January 24, 2014
Keep  lice off your child's head
Experts offer advice on how to avoid infestation.

(HealthDay)—It's that time of year when your children are back in school—and you need to be on the lookout for head lice, an expert says.

Most common among kids in preschool, grade school and day-care settings, between 6 million and 12 million cases of show up on the scalps of aged 3 to 11 in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contrary to popular belief, poor hygiene is not to blame. Head lice are spread mainly through direct head-to-head contact with an infected child. Because younger children tend to play closely together, they are at highest risk for infestation, explained Dr. Patricia Brown, a dermatologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Thankfully, there are ways to lower the odds of infestation for your children. Teach them to avoid head-to-head contact with other children, and not to share clothing—especially hats, scarves and bandanas— and other items such as towels, hair ties, headphones, brushes and combs.

Do not allow your children to lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets or plush toys that have recently been in contact with someone with head lice.

For any area that has been occupied by a person with head lice, thoroughly vacuum the floor and furniture. When possible, clean smaller items by machine washing them in hot water and putting them in the dryer on high heat. Whatever is not washable should be drycleaned or sealed in an airtight plastic bag and stored for two weeks.

When head lice fall off a person's scalp, they only survive for a day or two if they cannot feed, according to an FDA news release. These blood-sucking insects do not fly or jump, and can only move by crawling.

If, despite your best efforts, an infestation happens, there are a number of prescription and over-the-counter treatments for head lice. But many "are not for use in children under the age of 2, so read the label carefully before using a product to make sure it is safe to use on your child," Brown said in the news release.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for recommended treatments based on your child's weight and age, follow the dosing instructions, and don't use a product more often than directed unless told otherwise by a professional.

Once you have the medicine in hand, apply the product only to the scalp and scalp hair, not on other parts of the body. After rinsing, use a fine-toothed comb to remove dead lice and their eggs (nits), Brown said.

After you have completed the necessary treatment, the entire family should be checked for lice again a week later. If the treatment was not successful and lice are still found, contact your health care professional for advice.

Explore further: Doc dispels common myths about head lice

More information: The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about head lice.

Related Stories

Doc dispels common myths about head lice

October 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—Although lice do not cause serious physical harm, they can result in a lot of emotional distress because many people still mistakenly believe they are a sign of poor hygiene, an expert explains.

Lice tops seasonal Halloween creepy crawlies

October 17, 2011
Autumn brings tales of scary delight, but none terrifies parents so much as the note home from school that a case of lice has been detected.

Head lice beginning to show permethrin resistance

June 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Although live head lice obtained from school-aged children in Paris remain susceptible to the insecticide malathion, approximately 14 percent have been found to be resistant to permethrin, suggesting a strong ...

Insecticide-laced underwear no match for lice

December 4, 2013
(HealthDay)—Insecticide-treated underwear won't wipe out lice infestations in homeless shelters, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.