Treating Head Lice

Children can get head lice even if they frequently wash their hair. They are spread by direct contact with someone who is already infected with lice or by using the belongings, such as hats, brushes or combs, of someone who has lice.

One of the most common symptoms children infected with head lice complain about is itching. However, some children might not complain of itching if they have a light infestation.

Adult lice are reddish-brown and about 1/16 of an inch long. They move quickly and are most commonly seen at the back of the neck and behind the ears. Nits are eggs from the adult lice that are whitish in color and are firmly attached to hairs.

If your child has nits go through their hair and scalp and look for live lice. If you do not see any just remove the nits and continue to look for any live lice. Remember that anti-lice medications do not kill the eggs, so treating a child with just nits may not be helpful.

On the other hand, if you find live lice or nits, go ahead and use an anti – lice shampoo, such as Nix or Rid, and follow the package directions as stated. In general, you should wash and dry your child’s hair and then apply the lice shampoo until your child’s hair and scalp is thoroughly wet. Normally, you will usually need to apply a second lice shampoo treatment in 7-10 days to kill newly hatched lice.

You may also use a prescription shampoo, such as Ovide or Lindane, for those lice that are resistant. To use Ovide you lather the shampoo on dry hair and leave it on overnight. Ulesfia is the latest treatment that has been approved to treat lice. It is not a pesticide, and works by smothering head lice. It can also be used to treat children as young as six months of age.