What is it?
Head lice are insects that are most commonly found to infest the hair and scalp. It is common for school age children because children of this age are usually in close contact and share possessions. Lice eggs (nits) hatch in 7-10 and can survive 2 weeks when not attached to a person's head. The most common symptom of head lice is itching to the scalp. If your child is complaining of itching you should check the head for lice. Nits are easy to see. They are attached to the hair shaft close to the scalp and usually white or yellow in color. Many times the easiest place to see them is in the hair at the base of your child's neck or behind the ears. Lice are more difficult to see. They are about the size of a sesame seed, grey and move quickly. Lice are spread from close contact and sharing of clothing, accessories and hair brushes. Contrary to popular belief, lice cannot jump.
What can I do?
If you find lice on your child's head, try an over the counter lice shampoo such as Nix or Rid. Follow the directions on the box and repeat the shampoo in 1 week. Many times this is all that is needed along with proper house cleaning and prevention practices. Wash your child's bedding, clothing, coats and towels in hot water and tumble dry for at least 20 minutes. Anything that is soft (stuffed animals, quilts etc.) and cannot be washed should be placed in sealed plastic bags for 2 weeks. Soak combs, brushes, hair clips etc. in a solution that contains anti-lice shampoo for at least 1 hour. Vacuum your house daily to catch any nits or lice that have fallen off your child's head. Remove the vacuum bag after each time you vacuum and dispose in garbage outside of your house. A metal lice comb should be used to comb any dead lice and nits from the hair daily. Please do not use a plastic lice comb as they do not work well. Start at the top of the head and comb in small sections pinning combed hair up and away from uncombed hair. Also teach your child to avoid head to head contact, and to not share anything that gets placed on the head with other children. If your child has lice, avoid sleepovers until lice free.
When do I call the Office?