Your child tells you that it feels like “something is moving in my hair and I can’t stop scratching my head”. Remain calm…. but it’s likely these are symptoms of head lice. If you’ve avoided thinking about what to do if you find lice in your child’s hair, we’re here to calmly walk you through it. So grab a magnifying glass (seriously), and put on your detective hat because you’re going on a hunt.
It’s more likely that your child may contract lice in the beginning of the school year, so don’t be surprised if you get a call from the New Britain school nurse during those first days of school or even after Christmas vacation when kids tend to congregate together and share personal items.
What to do if you find lice in your child’s hair
Despite what you may have heard, head lice do not jump from one unsuspecting scalp to another. They stick to the scalp and feed on human blood throughout the day. They are spread by the sharing of brushes, combs, hats and other clothing of the infested person. The CDC estimates that between 6 and 12 million lice infestations occur each year in the U.S. and are most common in kids between the ages of 3-11 years old. Many schools and daycares regularly check for head lice and alert parents and caregivers promptly if they suspect an infestation.
- Using a magnifier, run a fine-toothed lice comb through the hair, starting from the scalp, to catch lice and nits. Live/active lice must be treated but depending on the location of the nits (within less than ¼ inch of the hair shaft), the infestation may be inactive and no treatment is needed.
- Purchase an over-the-counter remedy and follow the instructions carefully and fully.
- Most kids can return to school or daycare after the first treatment but every institution is different so be sure to check their policies.
Natural Remedies for Treating Head Lice
If dousing your child’s scalp with chemicals is not your cup of green tea, there are natural remedies that can be as effective.
- Coat your child’s hair in either olive or almond oil. This will suffocate the lice and slow them down so you can comb them out easier.
- Wash and condition your child’s hair and use a fine-tooth nit comb. You will need to do this at least twice for each washing. (Using a shampoo with neem oil is recommended,)
- Make a paste of 8-10 cloves of ground up garlic and 2-3 teaspoons of lime juice and thoroughly apply on your child’s scalp. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then rinse completely with warm water.
While lice is not life-threatening, it is important that it be diagnosed and treated early and completely. Be sure to alert anyone who may have come in contact with the person who has been diagnosed so they can take precautionary measures. While drastic actions need not be taken, washing linens, vacuuming the house and soaking brushes and combs are advised.
Remember, having lice is not an indication of dirty hair or a sign of poor hygiene. Once diagnosed, it is easily treatable and your child can resume their normal activities fairly quickly. If you think your child has lice but want assistance from a trained medical professional, bring them in to our AFC urgent care center where we have professionals available 7 days a week. We’re open 7 days a week, no appointment needed. Questions? Give us a call at 860-357-6899.