Head lice, also known as pediculosis, are small gray bugs that move quickly and are difficult to see. Lice are a common problem among school-age children. The bugs leave an abundance of nits, which are white eggs that firmly attach to hairs particularly around the back of the neck. If a child has lice, the scalp may be itchy and a rash may develop.
Head lice can affect anyone even if they have good health habits, such as washing the hair frequently. Lice will spread quickly when children are in close contact or when a hat, comb, or brush of an infected child is shared. Once your child has been affected, the eggs will hatch into lice in about a week.
If your child has lice, prompt treatment is a necessity. With proper treatment, all lice and nits can be eliminated. To kill the lice and eggs:
You should check the heads of everyone living in your house for scalp rashes, sores, or itching. If any of these symptoms appear, follow the same procedure.
Your child’s school or daycare should be notified immediately so other children can be treated and the facilities can be cleaned. Your child can return to school once the anti-lice shampoo treatment has been used and no nits are present.
To lessen the chances of getting head lice remind your child not to share combs or hats and always store jackets or coats inside his or her locker or backpack while at school.
Contact your child’s physician during office hours if sores start to spread or look infected, the lice and nits return, or the rash and itching don’t disappear a week after treatment.