We have recently detected some cases of head lice in the school. To check for lice, use a fine-toothed comb. Part small sections of hair in a place with good light. If you have a magnifying glass, it can help you see the lice and nits in the hair.
- Nits look like tiny yellow or white dots attached to the hair, close to the scalp. They're often easier to see than live lice. Nits can look like dandruff. But you can't pick them off with your fingernail or brush them away.
- Live lice are tan to greyish white. They're about the size of a sesame seed. It may be easiest to find them at the base of the scalp, the bottom of the neck, and behind the ears.
How are head lice treated?
It's important to treat head lice, because they won't go away without treatment.
There are several over-the-counter medicines that kill lice. Most of them are creams or shampoos that you put on your scalp for a certain amount of time. Each type of medicine is a little different. It's important to use any medicine correctly and to choose a medicine that is safe for you.
- Some medicines need just one treatment. Others require follow-up treatments.
- Do not shampoo or condition your hair before you use the medicine. It's best to wait 1 to 2 days after you use the medicine before washing your hair.
- Check the scalp for live, active lice 12 hours after treatment. If you find some, try a different type of treatment. It's possible that the lice in your area are resistant to the first treatment you tried.
- After treatment, you'll still see the shell of the nits attached to the hair. You don't have to remove them. But you can use a comb to remove them, if it makes you or your child feel better.
- Sometimes the skin itches for a week or more after treatment.
How can you prevent them?
Head lice are contagious. That means they can easily spread from one person to another. But you can take steps to prevent that.
- Check everyone in your home for lice. You don't have to worry about pets. They can't get lice.
- Teach your children not to share anything that comes into contact with hair. For example, don't share hair bands, barrettes, towels, hats, combs, or brushes.
- You don't need to spend a lot of time or money deep cleaning your home. But it is a good idea to:
- Soak hairbrushes, combs, barrettes, and other items for 10 minutes in hot water.
- Vacuum carpets, mattresses, couches, and other upholstered furniture.
- Machine-wash clothes, bedding, towels, stuffed animals and hats in hot water. Dry them in a hot dryer. If you don't have access to a washing machine, instead you can store these items in a sealed plastic bag for 14 days.