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Head Lice Bugging Your Family?

School is back in session and with that comes a dreaded 4-letter word. LICE.

The best word to describe it… GROSS, but the good news is that you cannot get any diseases from the bugs and you can get rid of lice with proper treatment.

If you or your child have lice, follow these tips:

  • Use a shampoo or lotion specially formulated to kill lice. This usually involves lathering the shampoo into the hair and leaving it on for a few minutes before rinsing it out.

  • Many products are effective, but not all are used in the same way. Be sure to follow the package directions.

  • Rinse hair and comb through the wet hair with the lice comb that comes with the shampoo. The teeth on these combs are much closer together than regular combs and more likely to remove the lice and nits.

  • Avoid shampooing the hair again for a few days. This lets the medication continue to work.

  • Because lice shampoos are often more successful at killing the lice than the nits, the directions may suggest using the product again within seven to 10 days. This helps to kill nits that have hatched since the last treatment.

  • Continue to comb through the hair once a day for several weeks to be sure you remove the lice and their nits. This is often easier to do with wet hair.

  • Lice don't live very long off the human head, so your best bet is to spend most of your energy combing through the hair.

  • Use hot water to wash clothes, sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and anything the person’s head may have touched. Seal non-washable items such as stuffed animals in a plastic bag for several weeks.

  • Vacuum your carpets and furniture. Do not use lice-killing sprays because chemicals can cause more harm than the lice.

  • Remind your family to avoid sharing hats, scarves, combs, or brushes. Lice don’t fly or jump. They often spread when kids touch their heads together.

If your child or someone else in your family still has lice after a few weeks, it could be because the shampoo didn’t work. See a board-certified dermatologist for advice on further treatment. Some highly effective treatments for head lice are only available by prescription.

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