It is estimated that at least 6 million children in the United States have head lice every year. It is particularly common for infestations to happen in schools where kids spend a great deal of time together. If you find your child scratching at his head more than he usually does, you may be wondering whether lice should be a concern for you and how you should address this problem.
What Are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny insects that only feed on human blood. Because lice do not have wings, they cannot fly long distances. Instead, they can only be passed from child to child through direct contact or through very close proximity.
How to Determine Whether Your Child Has Lice
Although frequent scratching of the scalp is a major symptom of head lice, an itchy scalp could be caused by other problems, such as psoriasis or even an allergic reaction. To determine whether lice are to blame, you will have to get close to the problem area to check for these tiny creatures. You should be able to see lice on the hair or even on the shoulders if they have fallen out of the hair. The tiny eggs, which are called nits, may be attached to individual strands of hair. Your child may also complain of a ticklish feeling on his scalp.
Choosing the Right Treatment for Head Lice
If you see tiny adult lice or nits in your child’s hair, you will most likely be able to treat the problem on your own in the comfort of your home. While treatment is time-intensive, it is quite effective when done correctly. There are several over-the-counter shampoos that you can use along with a fine-tooth comb to get rid of all the lice. If this does not take care of the problem completely, you should contact your child’s pediatrician for a topical or oral prescription medication because some lice have become resistant to the ingredients in over-the-counter shampoos.
Why You Should Not Let Head Lice Worry You
Although head lice is certainly an inconvenience and may mean that your child has to take some time off school, you should rest easy knowing that lice are not known disease carriers and that there are plenty of good treatments for the problem. Contact Kids 1st Pediatrics if you have any further questions.