No parent or caregiver wants to hear that LICE is going around! Although lice can be a frustrating and annoying problem to deal with, it can usually be treated at home! With careful treatment, all lice and nits lice eggs are usually killed. There are no lasting problems from having head lice and they do not carry any diseases or make your child feel sick. We wanted to share some important information about lice and how you can get rid of it!
FACTS ABOUT LICE:
- Lice are 1/16-inch 2 mm long gray-colored bugs. They move quickly and are difficult to see.
- They are the size of a sesame seed.
- The lice feed on blood from the scalp. While the bug is sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in. Any scalp rash or bumps is the body’s reaction to the bug’s saliva.
- Off the scalp, nits eggs can’t survive over 2 weeks.
- Adult lice survive 3 weeks on the scalp or 24 hours off the scalp.
SYMPTOMS OF LICE:
- The eggs are easier to see than the lice. Nits eggs are tiny white specks attached to hairs. Unlike dandruff or sand, nits can’t be shaken off the hair shafts.
- Itching of the scalp is the main symptom.
- A scalp rash may be present. The back of the neck is the favorite area.
HOW DOES LICE SPREAD?
- Only live lice can give lice to another child.
- Nits lice eggs cannot pass on lice. Nits are attached to the child’s hair.
- Almost all spread of lice is from direct hair-to-hair contact. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s hair.
- The spread of lice from hats, hair brushes or combs is not common. Headphones and other objects also do not usually spread lice.
- Most often, the spread of lice to others occurs at home, not school. Sleepovers and bed-sharing are a major source.
DON’T PANIC! HOME TREATMENT FOR LICE:
- Anti-Lice Shampoo:
- Buy some anti-lice creme rinse such as Nix and follow package directions. No prescription is needed.
- First, wash the hair with a regular shampoo. Then, towel dry it before using the anti-lice creme. Do not use a conditioner or creme rinse after shampooing. Reason: It will interfere with Nix.
- Pour 2 ounces full bottle or 60 ml of Nix into damp hair. People with long hair may need to use 2 bottles.
- Work the creme into all the hair down to the roots.
- If needed, add a little warm water to work up a lather.
- Nix is safe above 2 months old.
- Leave the shampoo on for a full 10 minutes. If you don’t, it won’t kill all the lice. Then rinse the hair well with water and dry it with a towel.
- Repeat the anti-lice shampoo in 9 days. Be sure to do this or the lice may come back. Two treatments are always needed. The second treatment will kill any new lice that have hatched from eggs.
- Nit removal is not necessary. If desired, nits can be removed by backcombing with a special nit comb. Wetting the hair with water makes removal easier.
- Hairwashing Precautions to Help Nix Work:
- Don’t wash the hair with shampoo until 2 days after Nix treatment.
- Avoid hair conditioners before treatment. Do not use them for 2 weeks after treatment. Reason: Coats the hair and interferes with Nix.
- Treating Close Contacts:
- Check the heads of everyone else living in your home. If lice or nits are seen, they also should be treated. Use the anti-lice shampoo on them as well.
- Also, anyone with an itchy scalp rash should be treated.
- Bedmates of children with lice should also be treated. If in doubt, have your child checked for lice.
- Cleaning the House – Preventing Spread:
- Avoid close contact with others until after the first anti-lice treatment.
- Lice that are off the body rarely cause infection. Reason: Lice can’t live for over 24 hours off the human body. Vacuum your child’s room.
- Soak hair brushes for 1 hour in a solution containing some anti-lice shampoo.
- Wash your child’s sheets, blankets, and pillow cases. Wash any clothes worn in the past 2 days. Wash in hot water 130° F or 54° C. This kills lice and nits.
- Optional: Items that can’t be washed hats, coats, or scarves should be set aside. Put them in sealed plastic bags for 2 weeks. This is the longest period that nits can survive.
WHEN TO CALL THE PEDIATRICIAN:
- Age less than 2 months old
- Scalp looks infected such as pus, soft scabs, open sores
- New head lice or nits are seen after treatment
- Scalp rash or itch lasts more than 7 days after treatment
- You are not sure if your child has head lice or have other questions or concerns
If you have any questions or concerns about lice or any other issue your child is facing, contact The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho or Rigby, Idaho. Our medical providers are trained and experienced in the physical, mental, emotional, and social development of children and youth. At The Pediatric Center, you will find excellent preventative and need based care for children of all ages.