How to Handle a Head Lice Problem

child head lice checkNobody likes to talk or think about head lice. Cases of head lice are a common occurrence, however, and your children may become infected. We at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers are up to date on the newest recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some of the newest findings may differ from what you understand about head lice.

About Head Lice

Head lice are certainly a nuisance, but they pose no serious danger. In addition, having head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene. These insects, about the size of a sesame seed, feed on blood from the scalp. They do not survive if they’re removed from the scalp. They reproduce quickly, and the eggs and casings appear as nits that are attached to the hair. To get rid of head lice, that reproductive cycle must to broken.

Most lice are acquired outside of school. Unlike in the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children not be restricted from school because of head lice or nits. After treatment, the child should return to school.

How Lice are Spread

Despite popular beliefs, lice do not jump from person to person. The only way they spread is close head-to-head contact or use of shared combs, brushes or hats.

Treatment

Contact us at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers if you have seen head lice after a close examination of your child’s scalp. Over-the-counter medications containing permethrin or pyrethrins are readily available at drug stores. After the medications are applied to the hair according to package directions, wet combing with a fine-toothed comb will help remove nits. Treatments can be repeated 10 days later and, if lice are still present, 18 days later.

In some areas of the U.S., lice are resistant to over-the-counter treatments. If that is the case, we can prescribe newer prescription medications to treat the head lice.

Ridding the Household of Lice

Once a member of a family has acquired lice, all members of the household should be checked for lice and treated if they are present. No special scrubbing or environmental cleaning of the house is needed. However, pillow cases, combs, brushes and hats that have been shared or in contact with the child with head lice should be washed in the usual way.

A Few Cautions

  • Do not apply head lice treatments in children under two years unless you first check with your pediatrician.
  • Do not allow children to handle the head lice medications.
  • Pregnant women should not handle head lice medications.

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24/7 Pediatric Care Centers are Jacksonville pediatricians, Jacksonville Beach pediatricians, and Fleming Island pediatricians providing care for children from newborn to 18 years. Our 24-hour office also provides services for non-life-threatening illnesses to registered patients 24 hours a day.

24/7 Pediatric Care Centers is not a substitute for Emergency or Trauma-related medical care.
If you feel your child is experiencing a life-threatening event, immediately call 911.