The school recently sent home a note with my child to let me know one of the kids in class was sent home with head lice. Is there anything I can do to prevent my child from getting head lice? I’m worried about sending him to school when some of the other kids in his class may have head lice too. — Kelly B., Little Rock
The thought of head lice in the school seems to strike fear in the hearts of parents and students. These annoying little critters are easily spread within schools, like many other colds and illnesses, because of the close contact between students. Thankfully, head lice do not spread other diseases and can be eliminated with proper treatment. Head lice are small insects that live in the hair and multiply by attaching their eggs, called nits, to the base of individual hairs. Nits appear as tiny white dots attached to the hair that do not come out with regular brushing or washing. Lice live by biting the scalp and this can cause a red and very itchy rash. Because lice require close contact between two people to spread, the best way to prevent this is by asking your child to avoid sharing brushes, combs, hats, scarves, or jackets with other children.
Most schools require children found to have head lice to stay home until they have been properly treated and no live lice are found in the hair. If you think that your child might have head lice it is important to keep them home and treat the lice in order to prevent spreading this to others. It is also important to know that anyone can get head lice, and having this does not mean that a child has bad hygiene.
Head lice can be difficult to treat. A fine toothed/nit comb or your fingernails can be used to remove eggs from the hair. There are also over-the-counter shampoos available at your pharmacy, but some lice are becoming resistant to these medications. You may want to talk to your child’s doctor about what the best options are for treatment. Always follow the instructions on the packaging or as given by the doctor when using medication for your child. — Dr. Strong
The Savvy Kids “Ask the Doctor” feature is for informational purposes only and any advice given should not be taken as a diagnosis. If you have a medical concern regarding your child, contact your pediatrician or family physician. If you have a question you would like to see answered in Savvy Kids, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Gilles San Martin