West Houston Dermatology

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Head Lice

Skin conditions - head lice

Head Lice

This infestation occurs in epidermic among children and is often passed to adults in their families. The tiny insect bites the scalp and attaches its eggs (nits) to the hairs with strong glue. A person with head lice may have no itching at all, or may have a lot of itching, especially toward the back of the scalp and the nape of the neck. He or she may only just be aware of the tiny nits beading the hair. The infestation is passed from one person to another by close personal contact (kids wrestling, or sleeping together), or on infested hats, collars, pillows, upholstered furniture, or combs and brushes. To kill the lice, use the shampoo or lotion that your doctor prescribes or recommends. The shampoo is generously lathered in and left on for 5 minutes and then rinsed. The lotion is generously rubbed in and left on for 15 minutes and then washed out. One type of lotion may be left on overnight. Avoid contact with the eyes, and make sure that children don’t have the opportunity to drink the materials, because they are somewhat poisonous. The bites may itch for several days after successful treatment, so do not re-treat unnecessarily, and do not refill the prescription until you have consulted with your doctor. All possibly infested individuals in the family should be treated at the same time. The shampoos and lotions kill the nits but do not remove them from the hairs. If the dead nits do not comb out easily and are annoying, then:

  1. Soak the hair thoroughly with a solution made up of equal parts of water and white vinegar.
  2. Wrap the wet scalp in a towel or put on a cap for at least 15 minutes to soften the attachment of the nits to the hairs.
  3. Comb gently but thoroughly with a fine toothed comb. Flea combs, available at pet stores, are well-suited to this task.
  4. Thoroughly rinse or shampoo the hair.
  5. Repeat periodically if necessary for stubborn nits.

NOTE: After adequate treatment the lice and nits are dead, and infestation is no longer contagious. Children may return to school events if nits are still present.