Head Lice… OH NO!

Head lice are a common issue in the United States. Typically, head lice affect pre-school and elementary aged children and their families. Head lice do not cause infections, but some people may develop a secondary infection from scratching. If someone in the household is found to have an infestation, do not freak out. Relax and take the following steps to treat the infestation.

Diagnosis

An lice infestation can be determined by seeing live bugs or nits that are less than 1/4 inch from the base of the hair shaft. Professionals such as a physician or nurse can help make a diagnosis of an infestation. If no live bugs are found or if the nits are more than 1/4 inch from the root, then there is most likely not an active infestation.

Treatment

The CDC recommends treatment for an active lice infestation with over-the-counter medications or with a prescription from a medical provider. Also, the CDC recommends following the directions as closely as possible including the timing of the follow-up treatments.

There are home-remedies that families can use to avoid pesticides. Stores do sell homeopathic treatments, but these should be heavily researched for effectiveness before spending money on the product. Other recommendations include applying conditioner or oil to the hair and combing the lice and nits from the hair. A home remedy treatment must be repeated every 3-4 days. After combing the bugs and nits from the hair, it is recommended to pick out any nits seen on the hair shaft.

Controlling An Infestation

It is recommended that all items an infested individual came in contact with in the last 48 hours be placed in the dryer for 5-10 minutes. This includes bedding and pillows. If something cannot be placed in the dryer, then place it in a designated area for 7-10 days. Nits typically do not hatch unless the conditions are ideal and cannot survive without a food source for more than 48 hours.

Prevention

It is recommended to check pre-schoolers and students weekly while school is in session to make sure they are not infested. There are products on the market to help repel lice. Make sure to research the products before making a purchase.

Head lice are a nuisance, but not the end of the world. Follow these steps to help treat an infestation.