Head lice are a common problem that affects children (girls more often than boys), particularly between the ages of 3 and 12. Unfortunately, no matter how clean our children are, at some point during their childhood they are bound to come face to face with the horrible annoyance of head lice.
What does lice look like?
The head louse is a small, black, wingless parasitic insect that feeds of very small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp and lives among the strands of hair.
Although, lice aren't dangerous, they are extremely contagious. Their bites may cause your child to continuously scratch their scalp, which may lead to a skin infection. They are also extremely uncomfortable, and iky to have.
How to get rid of lice?
Getting rid head lice can easily be done with the help of a medication shampoo, cream or lotion. You may purchase these products as over-the-counter products or have them prescribed by your child's doctor, depending on what you've already tried. It's important to follow the instructions carefully, because if the product is used improperly or if the lice become resistant to the chemicals in the shampoos, the treatment may prove ineffective. Also applying these medications too frequently may also lead to skin irritation and cause harm.
Often, medicated lice treatment can eliminate the lice and nits. However, it may take a few shampoo sessions and a few days for your child to stop itching. Your child's doctor may suggest that you repeat the lice treatment after 7 to 10 days to make sure all the lice and nits are removed and to reduce the risk of reinfestation. Reinfestation can occur if the lice lay eggs that aren't removed, but instead hatch and scurry among your child's hair. You will need a special lice comb to remove all of the lice eggs from your child's hair. This is the most tedious and time consuming part of the treatment--but it must be done.
Some simple steps you can take to prevent reinfestation include (because unhatched eggs may be left behind):
- Wash all bed linens and recent clothing that's been worn by the affected individual in hot water. Then use a dyer to dry the items.
- Dry clean all recent worn clothing or stuff toys that can't be machine-washed.
- Vacuum carpets, sofas or any upholstered furniture.
- Soak hair care items like combs, brushes, head wraps in medicated shampoo or rubbing alcohol for an hour. Or just throw these items away.