How to avoid and treat lice
Amy Guzek, MD is a pediatrician at the Banner Health Center in Chandler. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Dr. Guzek's office at 480-668-1600.
Question: My daughter's classmate has head lice. What can I do to prevent her from getting it, and how is it treated?
Answer: Because kids spend so much time together in school, an outbreak of head lice can potentially affect several children. The best defense for your child is to have her avoid sharing anything that might touch her head, such as brushes, combs, hats, helmets, hair accessories, blankets or towels.
Typically, the school will remove these classroom items when lice have been detected, but kids may also bring their own belongings. During the outbreak, your daughter shouldn't play any games that could result in head-to-head contact, as lice can easily jump from one child to the next. Outside of school, avoiding contact with beds, furniture or clothing used by any contaminated children is important.
If your child does get head lice, you may know right away or it may take a few weeks for symptoms to appear. Anyone can get lice, despite good hygiene and frequent hair washing. Common symptoms include rash and an itchy scalp. If you inspect your daughter's hair, you should look for nits, which are the tiny white eggs that lice lay.
Carefully go over her clothing, particularly hats, coats and shirts that may have been worn in the past two days, to see if nits or lice are present. Wash any clothing, bedding and furniture surfaces that lice could infest by using hot water or the sanitizing cycle on your washing machine.
Several over-the-counter treatment products are available, which often include a shampoo and a fine-tooth comb to remove lice and nits from the head. Your pediatrician can recommend a product appropriate for your child and advise you on ways to eliminate any future infestations.