The dreaded word all parents of daycare and school-aged children never want to hear: LICE. Millions of people each year get lice, and one of the most common places it happens is school. Let’s face it, all the people your children come into contact with on a daily basis makes it very hard to control whether or not they get lice or not. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “It is believed that about 6 to 12 million children between 3 and 12 years of age get head lice each year.”
Education is important: Knowing what lice is and what it looks like is a major step in identifying and treating it. Lice is a parasite that requires a host to survive – they are only able to survive on humans. Lice eggs are in a sense “glued” close to the scalp, and take about a week to hatch. It can be difficult to initially spot lice because of their size and the length of time it takes to show symptoms. If your child begins to complain about excessive itching, or feeling like there is something crawling in their hair or the back of their neck, it is time to check for lice. Depending on the stage, you will either see white eggs near the scalp, or lightly colored brown bugs that are about the size of a sesame seed.
While there is no guaranteed way of preventing lice, precautions can be taken to help avoid getting it. Remind your children not to share items with other children that
frequently come into contact with the head, including:
- Hair tools (Brush/comb)
- Hair Accessories
- Hats and other articles of clothing
Checking and treating lice. To do this you will need an over-the-counter shampoo and hair treatment, a fine tooth comb and a bright light.
- First completely wash the hair with a shampoo specified for lice. Wet hair in general helps prevent the lice from being able to move around.
- Start combing through the hair with a fine tooth comb, making sure to look for small lightly colored brown lice bugs or white eggs. Using the light will better help you spot them, but both may be difficult to comb out.
- Generously apply the over-the-counter lice treatment to the hair after washing and combing through the hair.
- Check the area for the next two weeks to insure there is no-infestation.
Generally this approach should get rid of the issue, but there are some instances when it is necessary to seek assistance from your dermatologist. Of course your child’s pediatrician can counsel you appropriately, but it is important to note that dermatologists are experts in skin conditions of the skin, nails and hair. Contact your dermatologist if you notice the following:
- If you’ve used over the counter treatments and nothing has changed or the condition worsens.
- If the itching gets to be unbearable longer than a day.
- If you experience painful swelling.
- If you get any adverse reactions from using over-the-counter cleansers or treatments.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed.” This doesn’t mean that you should overlook household items, especially ones the affected person comes into contact with. Be sure to check furniture, bedding, rugs toys and towels for eggs.
- Do not forget to check everyone else in your household as well.
- IMPORTANT: Notify your child’s school or care taker about them having lice. If your child has had any friends over or has gone over to a friend’s house it is important to notify their parents.
If you have any concerns about lice or any other skin condition please feel free to contact any of our locations.