Head Lice

Head Lice - What you need to know
Posted on 09/02/2019
Article by  Dr. Lisa Engel

liceBack to school is often associated with head lice, but did you know that head lice can take 4-6 weeks from time of infection to time of diagnosis? Most head lice is spread during sleep overs and sleep away camps where there is more direct head-to-head contact. Head lice only survive 1-2 days off of the human scalp. Therefore, they are not commonly transmitted from carpet or furniture. Also, head lice do not infect dogs, cats, or other pets and they are not involved in the spread of lice.

Always remember, that while you may already be itching your head at the thought of head lice, it is not considered a health hazard and lice do not transmit any disease.

Symptoms of head lice include itching, often behind the ears and the back of the neck. Itching is caused by sensitivity to lice saliva and can persist for weeks even after lice has been treated.

Prevention of head lice is best accomplished by avoiding head-to-head and hair-to-hair contact. Also avoid children sharing hats, scarfs, combs and brushes.

Diagnosis of head lice is best done at home by periodically looking through your child’s hair and scalp. Live lice are hard to find as they avoid light and move very quickly. Nits (lice eggs) are small white or yellowish specks that are firmly attached to he hair near the scalp. Nits are easiest to find at the hairline behind the ears and the back of the neck. Nits can be confused with many other things such as dandruff, dirt, or hair spray droplets. The way to tell the difference is that nits are firmly attached to hair, while the others are not.

Treatment of head lice is only recommended for an active lice infection. Treatment is not needed if your child was only exposed to lice and has not evidence of infection themselves. For more details on head lice and its treatment please visit www.healthychildren.org.

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