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Creeping Back: Lice

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I keep hearing that there are lice out there! Lice are a part of childhood, albeit the gross part, but it really has nothing to do with where you live or go to school or how often your kids take their baths, its about hair. Lice are obligate human parasites and require a human scalp to live, they can only live off the host for 6 -25 hours The most recent issue with lice is that they are becoming resistant to the over the counter products like Rid and Nix that have been recommended for years. These are still first line treatment as well as trying to remove as many nits (egg casings) as you can with a nit comb.

Once you have treated your child appropriately they may return to school, there are no longer “no nit policies”. If you notice that your child still has lice after a couple of days despite appropriate over the counter treatment, call your doctor. Don’t try to smother the lice with mayo, or a shower cap, as lice don’t have lungs, and never think about kerosene for hair or shaving the head. There are some newer prescription treatments available. Tea tree oil shampoo may also help as a preventative and make sure to wash all of the child’s bedding in hot water. If you have a child with lice you are probably not alone as they are frequent visitors to school, sports teams and even from movie theater seats. Despite our best efforts as parents, lice are here to stay.

That’s your daily dose. We’ll chat tomorrow!

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