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Lice is Back in the News

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Seems that lice are back in the news. While school is in session lice continue to be a problem that “plagues” many families and makes many a parent want to pull out their own hair. We have discussed previously treatment options for lice, and fact vs. fiction about methods to annihilate these pesky parasites.

There is a new article from the March issues of Archives of Dermatology that looks at the most accurate way to diagnose louse infestation in children. In most cases both schools and pediatricians use visual inspection for diagnosis. I am always looking at the nape of the neck, the temple and behind the ears when I am asked to inspect a child’s head. When cute girls with thick dark, curly hair come in, it is a real challenge. It requires a great deal of patience on the part of the child and parent to meticulously inspect the entire head. I guess there is a reason for having three boys!

In this study done in Germany it was found that wet combing hair that has been moistened with conditioner is the most accurate method to diagnose active lice infestation. Placing a light colored towel around the child’s shoulders would also help to see what has been combed from the hair. In the case of nits or eggs, visual inspection is superior for accurate diagnosis.

So, this tells me look and comb and the yield for accurate diagnosis will be greatest. The best news is that we see far fewer cases of lice in the summer months when the kids are out of school and outside. Remember lice don’t have lungs or wings!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

More Information: Best Bet for Spotting Lice? A Wet Comb

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