By Doctor Q Pediatrics
May 02, 2016
Category: General Pediatrics
Tags: lice   treatment   pests  

According to healthychildren.org, each year millions of children get head lice.  Lice do not cause serious illness or carry diseases, but they are a great nuisance.  

Head lice are tiny insects 2-3mm long that feed on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp.  They usually survive less than a day if not on a person's scalp.  Lice lay and attach their eggs to hair close to the scalp.  The eggs and their shell casings are called nits.  After the eggs hatch, the empty nits remain attached to the hair shaft.  Head lice live about 28 days.  They can multiply quickly, laying up to 10 eggs a day. The cycle can repeat itself every 3 weeks.  

Lice are crawling insects. They cannot jump, hop or fly.  Lice spread mainly, through close, prolonged head to head cotact.  There is a small chance that head lice will spread because of sharing items such as combs, brushes and hats. 

The most common symptom of head lice is itching.  It may take up to 4 weeks after lice get on the scalp for the itching to begin.  Most of the itching happens behind the ears or at the back of the neck.  

There are several medicines used to treat lice, both over the counter and prescription.  OTC meds are a good first choice.  Failures may occur if hair is not also meticulously combed to remove as many lice and eggs as possible. If your child has lice, all household members and close contact should also be checked and treated if necessary. There are several services now that will come and help remove lice from children's heads as well.  For a comprehensive list of head lice medicines visit this link and others at Healthychildren.org https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Signs-of-Lice.aspx.

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