Head Lice in Children
Head lice are insects that invade the scalp and cause the child to itch and scratch the scalp. Lice eggs (nits) are firmly attached to the hair and appear as small white dots.
- Wet hair thoroughly with warm water.
- Massage the prescribed treatment (e.g., NDC cream rinse) for the correct time (most often ten minutes).
- Avoid contact of shampoo with eyes or mouth. A towel may be held over the eyes protect them from the lather and during rinsing. Should the medicine by chance get into the eyes, the stinging can be relieved by flushing the eyes with cool water.
- Rinse the hair well with warm water.
- The medicine will kill live insects and the eggs as well. But some nits may not be removed from the hair by shampoo treatment. Use a fine-toothed comb to remove the nits that remain. Eggs are best removed by back-combings (combing from the outside inward toward the scalp). If the rest of the nits are not removed by combing, the hair can then be rinsed with half-strength vinegar (mix equal amounts of vinegar and water) and then comb again. Discard the comb after using or clean with boiling water.
- Repeat the treatment in one week to make sure that all the lice eggs are killed.
- The itching and rash may last for a few weeks after treatment.
- Be sure to store the medicine out of the reach of children at all times, since it is toxic if swallowed.
Prevent the Spread of Lice
Head lice can survive on objects such as hairbrushes, combs, caps, scarves, coats, and towels for only a few days. All washable clothing, towels, and bed linens which have been in contact with a person with lice should be machine washed in hot water and machine dried with high heat for 20 minutes to destroy live nits. If they cannot be washed, then dry-clean or store in plastic bags for two weeks. Hair brushes and combs can be cleaned with boiling water.
Family and School Contacts
It is possible to catch lice even if you are very clean. They often spread by sharing combs, brushes, hats, and with close contact. All family members should be treated with the prescribed agent. Children in school with the affected person should also be checked for head lice.
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
American Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
1675 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 11/14/2012
Copyright © 11/14/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6463
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