Head Lice Information

 

Lice are very small and difficult to find. The best way to check to have your child sit in direct sunlight or under a bright lamp. You should look for tiny egg sacks (nits) typically found at the base of the hair shaft, although (nits) they can be found anywhere on the hair shaft. Nits are the size of a poppy seed and look like a tear drop on the side of the hair shaft. Unlike dandruff or lint they will not wash off or blow away, but need to be manually pulled off. The live lice are difficult to find, as they scatter in the light. Nits are easier to find and indicate the presence of live lice.

 

If you detect nits, it is recommended to treat the child’s head with a lice-killing shampoo. If you have concerns, please call your child’s doctor to make sure there are no medical conditions that would contraindicate the use of these products. Although this initial shampoo will kill some of the live lice additional effort will be required to remove all of the eggs. Patient combing and pulling the nits off the hair may take several days/weeks to completely eliminate. Daily follow up checks are necessary.

 

Below are tips with more in depth information on this subject. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions, and please notify me if you find lice or nits on your child.

 

Sincerely,

Anne Chabot, R.N.

Nixon Health Office

(978) 443-1080, ext. 2

 

 

HOW DO YOU GET LICE?

Many people associate lice with unclean people or homes. This is not true in the case of head lice. Frequent bathing or shampooing will not prevent lice nor eliminate them once they are established. Lice cannot jump or fly, and are only transmitted by direct head to head contact. Children should be instructed not to share hats, headbands, clothing, brushes and combs with others.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Lice are small insects about the size of a sesame seed. They are usually light brown but can vary in color. They move quickly and shy away from light, making it difficult to see them. Nits may be found throughout the hair, but are most often located at the nape of the neck, behind the ears, and frequently on the crown of the head.

 

SYMPTOMS OF INFESTATION

Itching occurs when lice bite. Itching is a primary symptom of infestation, although not everyone will have this experience. Children seen scratching their heads frequently should be examined.

 

LICE TREATMENT WITH A PEDICULOCITE

Again, if your child has any medical issue that may make him/her more vulnerable to the use of chemicals please consult your primary care physician.

  1. Purchase a quality lice and nit killing product at your local retailer. Most of them contain permethrin.
  2. Start by washing the child’s head with a water-based shampoo with a pH level not lower than 6 (this will strip the hair clean and prepare it for the pediculocite). Prell is one example of this. Make sure the shampoo contains no conditioner, protein, fruit or vegetable additives.
  3. Most products are applied to wet hair, but some are to dry--read the product’s instructions. Towel dry hair prior to application because if the hair is too wet the product will not work effectively.
  4. Protect your child’s eyes with a towel and treat over a sink to ensure the product gets only on the scalp and not on the rest of the body or in the eyes.
  5. Apply to entire scalp. The entire scalp should be covered and moistened but do not assume more is better: use only the quantity recommended.
  6. Set a timer, do not exceed the time limit stated in the instructions, rinse thoroughly.
  7. If using Nix or other product with residual effects, only shampoo with a mild (baby) shampoo and do not use a conditioner or other hair products for one week after treatment.
  8. Comb hair thoroughly and completely with a good metal nit comb. Comb hair one section at a time and pin each section. Wipe the comb clean between each combing to prevent wiping nits back on the head. Some nits will need to be picked off the hair individually by sliding the nits down the hair shaft.
  9. Remember that no pediculocite is 100% effective. Repeat treatment as per instructions on package insert.
  10. Time spent removing nits is most important. Thorough nit removal is the key to preventing reoccurrence.
  11. Continue to check your child’s head on a daily basis. Check family members and treat appropriately to stop back and forth spread within the family.

 

TREATMENT OF PERSONAL ARTICLES AND ENVIRONMENT

Routine cleaning is recommended. This does not need to be frantic, expensive or backbreaking disinfecting of the home. The child’s personal environment is the place to concentrate. Bedding and recently worn clothes and hats should be washed in hot water and/or placed in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. The bed, mattress and carpet should be vacuumed. Studies have shown that proper treatment of the child and his/her contacts is what is most important. Use of insecticidal sprays are not recommended and strongly discouraged as it may be harmful to family members and pets.

 

***It is important to clean the environment, however, it is more important to spend your energy and time removing the nits from the hair. After the initial cleaning of bedding, clothes, etc... nit removal on the head is where you should be focusing your time.

 

***Lice survive only on humans and cannot infect or be transmitted to pets.

 

REPORTING CASES

Don’t be embarrassed to notify the health office at school so that other parents can be alerted to a possible lice outbreak. Also notify your child’s playmates’ parents. Parental cooperation will help protect all children, including your own.

 

HELPFUL LINKS

  • http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/nasn/39211
  • www.liceinfo.net www.aap.org/policy/0203.html (Academy of Pediatrics)
  • www.hsph.harvard.edu/headlice.html.

 

Lice treatment centers:

  • www.liceaunties.com
  • www.thenit-picker.com
  • (two examples, there are more compaines online)

 

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