What Should I Do About Lice?

No one thinks it will happen to their kids, but head lice can be a real problem. 

lice
Image via Flickr/ Emily

Here’s are a few facts about lice. They are definitely frustrating to deal with, but they are not dangerous and, most importantly, they are not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Lice cannot fly or jump, but are spread around through contact (head-to-head contacts, sharing clothes or hats, and bed linens). Lice do not spread diseases, but since kids tend to scratch when they have lice there is a possibility of getting an infection from the scratching. Lice are not very big, adults are about the size of a sesame seed. If head lice are not treated, the adult lice will lay eggs (nits), which will hatch and those nymphs will mature and lay more eggs, the process repeating itself about every three weeks. 

If you discover that you child has lice, let your school or childcare center know. Most children are asked to stay home for a period of time, usually until one treatment has been completed. Prescription or over-the-counter treatments should be used to completion.

With lice becoming such an issue – especially with the new school year beginning – we jumped at the chance to interview Wendy L. Wright about lice. Wendy is a family and adult nurse practitioner and the owner of two clinics in New Hampshire. She is the nurse practitioner representative to the State of New Hampshire Immunization Advisory Board and has served as a consultant to a number of pharmaceutical companies, medical offices, and corporations. She has been a medical media spokesperson for a number of companies and has also served as an expert witness in medical malpractice cases around the area of clinical practice.

Here is some of the advice Wendy gave us about lice:

What should you do if your kid has lice? First of all, remember that lice is very common, with 6-12 million kids infected every year. Wendy says if you find out your child is one of those infected you should call your healthcare professional, because while there is a lot of information on websites, they can provide you with inaccurate information.

What’s the deal with Super Lice? Wendy says that Super Lice are nothing more than lice that have mutated and become resistant (mostly to over the counter products). But don’t panic, there are prescription treatments available that will work on Super Lice.

What should you remember about lice? Remember, you don’t have to deal with this alone. Wendy says, “As a provider I want you to call me. Nothing wrong with trying over the counter first, but if it doesn’t work please call us. We offer treatment options, and it can save time if you call your provider first.” Plus, she added that with a lot of these newer prescription treatments you don’t even need to comb out nits, so they may be more convenient and affordable for you in the long run. This one is a big deal! Not having to comb out nits can save you hours of frustration, so don't hesitate to explore your options. 

Any other tips? Lice is preventable, so encourage kids not to put heads together, and remind them not to share caps and hair brushes. Again, be sure you talk to your healthcare provider. A quick phone call may save you lots of time.

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You can watch the whole interview here:

Have you ever had to deal with lice?

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What Should I Do About Lice?

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