RadioMD: Healthy Children

What to Do if Your Child Has Lice

March 21, 201716 min
You child comes home with the dreaded note: the class has lice. What do you do?Even the cleanest children get lice. Those little bugs tend to nest in certain colors and textures of hair, which is why some people get repeat visits. Lice are bugs that crawl from one scalp to another. They can crawl from combs, brushes and clothing onto a fresh scalp. The bugs look like sesame seeds, and their eggs stick to the hair shaft. A louse will only live one to two days when not on a scalp. Eggs don’t hatch if they aren’t in a warm environment. Of course, you should still vacuum and clean linens. It can take up to two weeks for eggs to hatch. It’s better to be cautious. It takes four to six weeks for itching to start because of the lice saliva. When the note comes home with your child, the lice have had plenty of time and opportunity to spread. You can check your child for lice at home with a couple of sticks, sifting through the hair. Your pediatrician can also check the scalp, make recommendations, and provide prescriptions as needed. Lice are treated with over-the-counter medications like Nix (permethrin) and Rid (pyrethrum). Nix is used on wet hair and can kill eggs. Be sure not to use a conditioner before application. Rid is used on dry hair but doesn’t kill eggs. Consider the life cycle of the eggs. You should repeat treatment on day nine, and perhaps once more. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendation for the right medication. Listen as Dr. Corinn Cross joins Melanie Cole, MS, to share how to get rid of lice.

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