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This month at the Kid Clinic: Head Lice

This month at the Kid Clinic: Head Lice

Valerie Amstadt, PA-C
Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic

This month at the Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, we have been seeing a lot of children with head lice.

Head lice are spread via casual contact with an infected individual. Most people do not know that they have head lice and others may have some mild itching of the scalp, neck or ears. A great way to check your child's hair for head lice is to do a technique called wet combing. After your child gets out of the shower, put conditioner in their hair. Place a fine-toothed comb at the top of the head, touching the scalp. Pull the comb through the hair from roots to ends. After each stroke, carefully examine the comb for lice or eggs. Head lice adult bugs are small and gray-white in color and the nits (eggs) are white in color and generally are found near the scalp. Be sure to comb the entire head at least twice. The difference between nits and dandruff is that nits are firmly stuck to the hair and are difficult to remove.

If you find head lice in your child's hair, start topical, over-the-counter treatment right away. The most common topical treatments are Nix or Rid and they can be found at most pharmacies. First wash your child's hair with shampoo, rinse it, and towel dry it. Then apply the cream or gel to the scalp and leave it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it with water (be sure to read the instructions on the box as they may vary between products). You will need to repeat this process in seven to 10 days. Be sure to inspect other family members for head lice as well and if any nits or lice are found, be sure to treat them too.

If this child sleeps in the same bed with another family member, be sure to treat that person as well, even if you do not find any lice or nits. Lice cannot live off the human body for more than 48 hours. However, you will need to take any clothing, bedding or towels used in the past 48 hours and wash them in hot water and then place them in the dryer on high heat. Anything that cannot be washed should be sealed in black garbage bags and placed outside for 2 weeks. Place all brushes or combs that the child has used in boiling hot water. Be sure to vacuum your carpeting as well.

If you do all of these things and are still infected with head lice, contact your child's care provider, as sometimes lice can be resistant to over the counter treatment and oral medication is needed to get rid of the lice.

The Kid Clinic is a school-based pediatric clinic for Campbell County students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their siblings over the age of 2. The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic.