A young girl getting her hair combed, checking for lice

Pediculus humanus capitis is a prolonged name for a small but fearsome insect: the head louse. Small children are notably inclined to getting lice—and spreading it to loved ones and classmates. The great information is, Patty Sabey, MD, a pediatrician with Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, is here with advice on how to deal with individuals pesky parasites.

Lice, HealthTalks podcast

What are head lice?

Head lice are really modest bugs that really like to dangle out in hair, such as brows and eyelashes. These minor pests established up camp near to the scalp so they can feed off their host’s blood. They do not leap or fly but crawl from one particular head to one more.

“It’s this microscopic bug you can see visibly. The grownup is about a sesame seed measurement, and they just hang out on the human scalp. They can connect to human hair, and it’s just this small microscopic companion of the human species,” Dr. Sabey reported.

Head lice can impact people today at any age, but they most usually infect small children ages 3 to 12 decades. They are primarily popular among younger young children who share near quarters, this kind of as in working day cares and colleges.

“They usually distribute from hair-to-hair make contact with, or head-to-head contact,” Dr. Sabey stated. “So, if you have young youngsters in a day care or preschool location where they’re wrestling each and every other on the floor or they get a nap and they have head-to-head get hold of, if their sleeping cots are subsequent to just about every other or head to head, the lice can unfold that way.”

Indicators of head lice

Together with the telltale itching, lice bites can lead to bumps and sores on the scalp. In several instances there will also be seen lice and/or proof of their eggs (also recognised as nits: little white or yellow specks in the hair shut to the scalp). Dr. Sabey explained that a near examination of your child’s scalp with a fantastic-toothed comb should be enough to affirm if he or she has lice.

“The greatest area to search for them is powering the ears or just earlier mentioned the neck, and with very good lights, and you have to truly seem close to the scalp mainly because usually lice love to hold out shut to the scalp,” she claimed. “If they’re much too far away from the scalp, they really don’t endure for very lengthy.”

What to do if your boy or girl has lice

In accordance to Dr. Sabey, lice can be dealt with with over-the-counter topical medicine that is obtainable at pharmacies and grocery retailers. There are even some salons that specialize in dealing with lice outbreaks. Most young ones will not want to see a health practitioner, but in the case of a stubborn or significantly intense infestation, there are prescription prescription drugs available.

“What we explain to households is, if you’re fearful about head lice, you can try out the around-the-counter remedies,” she reported. “If that’s not powerful, and the little one proceeds to have signs or symptoms or you proceed to uncover lice or nits, then see your physician and take into account having a prescription-power medicine.”

Dr. Sabey claimed that follow-up treatments might be required to completely get rid of the lice. It is also a very good plan to clean any bedding, outfits, or fabric goods that your little one has used.

“Most of the time, we want to address once more in a week mainly because it usually takes about a week for the lice egg to hatch,” she said. “We also endorse any items that the little one has made use of in the previous 48 several hours, either bedding or stuffed animals and products that can be laundered, they ought to clean those people items. Matters that can not be washed must be put in a plastic bag or container and saved absent for a couple months before the little one employs all those items once again.”

Irrespective of the nuisance, lice do not usually pose a important wellness hazard or have lengthy-phrase difficulties, Dr. Sabey shared. When the lice are handled, your little one should be capable to go back again to school the subsequent day. On the other hand, she also cautioned, thanks to the really transmissible mother nature of lice, every person in the residence need to get checked.

“[It] can be a recurrent issue, and in all probability the extra typical scenario is that a single human being in the family members receives head lice, technically all people must get checked. But if it’s not found initially spherical and the initial individual gets addressed, but then a different youngster receives head lice, then it can recirculate in the household,” she stated.

How to stop lice

Though it may not be attainable to stop all scenarios of head lice, there are a handful of points you can do to aid prevent the spread:

  • Steer clear of sharing private items like helmets, hair grooming tools, or hats.
  • Periodically look at your child’s hair for lice and nits.
  • Continue to keep prolonged hair tied again in a braid or ponytail.
  • Consistently wash your child’s dresses and bedding in sizzling drinking water to eliminate any potential lice.

Head lice are not a reflection of cleanliness or private cleanliness. They are a prevalent difficulty that can impact anyone, so there is no need to sense ashamed or stigmatized if your baby encounters them. Dr. Sabey encourages dad and mom to reassure children that it is still Okay to participate in with close friends and to remind them to be variety due to the fact head lice can come about to anybody.

“If a person just experienced head lice, then be a minor far more mindful. You are nevertheless pals with them. You can still participate in with them, but attempt not to share a hairbrush with them or share a hat,” she reported. “I believe it’s Okay to allow little ones be youngsters and perform the way they truly feel comfortable. But frequently, as we communicate to our children, we can reassure them that just since you have head lice, or you experienced head lice, or your close friends have head lice, it is not a bad factor. It is section of the human knowledge.” For additional guidance from Dr. Sabey, read “Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters For the duration of Length Studying,” and to study more about head lice, examine out “Head Lice in Kids