Weekend Doctor

Each August, kids head back to school and inevitably someone in their school is diagnosed with head lice. Lice infestations are most common among preschool and elementary age children. It is spread mainly by head-to-head contact with an infected person.
The CDC estimates 6 million to 12 million children 3 to 11 years of age get head lice each year. A child getting lice is not related to the cleanliness of the person or their living environment. To be diagnosed, live nymphs (juveniles) or louse (adults) must be present. Nits (eggs) may also be present but aren’t required for diagnosis.
Symptoms of lice infestation include:
• Itching,
• The sensation of tickling, like hairs are moving,
• And irritability or difficulty sleeping (lice are most active at night),
Treatments include over the counter and prescription products. Most treatment options also require using a special fine tooth nit comb to remove any remaining lice/nits from the hair.
Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about what treatment should be used on the person; some products can’t be used on very young children.
In addition to hair treatments, the CDC recommends:
• Washing clothing and bedding in hot water and dry on high,
• Placing items that can’t be washed (hats, stuffed animals, etc.) in sealed plastic bags for two weeks,
• Soaking hair brushes and combs in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes,
• And vacuuming furniture and rooms where the person has spent time.
If your child should be diagnosed, be sure to check with their school for the policy on returning to class after treatment. Each district may have a different stance on when they can return.
Dave Schiefer is a registered pharmacist serving the community at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital’s FCH Pharmacy.



About the Author