By Belkis R. Cepero, MD
February 26, 2021
Category: Child Health Care
Tags: Head Lice
You’ve just received a call from the school: someone in your child’s class has head lice. We know that hearing that your child has or might have head lice can be stressful, but don’t worry. Your pediatrician can help guide you through the best methods for getting rid of pesky head lice once and for all.
If you notice head lice in your child there’s no way around it: you have to treat the lice. They will not go away on their own. It might give you the heebie-jeebies but it’s important to find a treatment that will get rid of these little critters quickly. You should also check all members of your family to make sure they don’t have lice too, as this problem can spread quickly.
The good news is that you can often treat lice from the comfort of your own home. While there are certain hair salons that may cater to the treatment of lice, it’s worth it to try and treat the problem yourself. There are a variety of over-the-counter shampoos and rinses that can kill lice and their eggs (also known as nits). You may want to talk with your pediatric doctor about the treatment process, which products to use and whether or not you should reapply the shampoo or rinse days after the first application.
Still seeing lice? This is a literal head scratcher for some parents, but don’t worry. This is when a pediatrician can prescribe a much stronger treatment option such as shampoos containing benzyl alcohol, or lotions containing either ivermectin or malathion (both pesticides), or spinosad (an insecticide).
Since some of these products work differently from others, it is important that you read and follow all instructions. Some products will require more than one application while others will only require one. Again, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s lice treatment don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician.
Treating Your Home After Lice
The good news is that lice need blood in order to survive so they won’t live very long if they don’t have a human host. However, you will want to wash all bedding, towels and clothes that may have lice or nits on them. Make sure to wash them thoroughly in hot water that is higher than 130 degrees F. If you can’t wash these items immediately, promptly bag them until you can clean them properly.
Head lice can be annoying, but turning to a qualified pediatric doctor can help you get the answers you need to tackle this hairy little problem. Call your pediatrician to learn more.