Just uttering the words “head lice” is enough to make many people cringe, yet parents must realize that it is an issue that might very well affect their child.
Approximately 45% of all school age children will have at least one bout with head lice. Lice is more common among elementary age school children, although it can affect all ages.
While some people think that lice are a sign of uncleanliness, this is actually untrue. Lice can affect any one, of any age. This includes the cleanest of people.
What are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny parasites that live on the human scalp, feeding off of blood of the scalp to survive. Lice quickly multiply and are very contagious.
It is important that you know the signs of head lice as well as the proper methods of treatment if you are a parent. Catching head lice early can prevent many problems in your household.
Signs of Head Lice
The most common sign of head lice is the sighting of the actual bug. The lice bug is small in size and white in color.
Nits are also commonly found attached to single strands of the hair. They are brown in color and contain a baby lice waiting to be hatched.
Other signs of head lice:
- Extremely itchy scalp
- Red bumps on the scalp
If you suspect that your child has lice, you can perform a visual check of their head looking for the lice or their eggs. If you notice either, purchase of a treatment product is necessary.
How to Treat Lice?
It is not necessary to visit a doctor for diagnosis or treatment of lice. Many at-home kits are available without a prescription, over-the-counter.
These kits contain lice shampoo that kill nits and lice and oftentimes spray that should be used on non-washable items around the home. While lice live in the head, it is very much possible for them to take up home in other areas, since they can easily stay on pillows, jackets, shorts, etc.
The products are not intended for use on children under the age of 2. If you have a toddler with head lice, removing the bugs and nits by hand is the preferred removal method.
School aged children will need to remain home from school until the head lice have been treated.
How to Prevent Head Lice?
Obviously prevention is the best method of keeping head lice at bay. While there is no 100% sure way to avoid head lice, the following tips will minimize your child’s chances of catching the bugs.
- Do not allow your child to use anyone else’s hair brushes, hats, scarves, jackets, barrettes, etc.
- Wash all linens in the home if lice have been spotted
- Any items that cannot be washed should be dry cleaned
- Wait two days to wash your child’s had after application of lice medication
- Do not allow your child to sleep in other people’s beds