Itchy Scalp – Could It Be Lice?

Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:00 PM

If you have young children and watch the news, you’re probably aware that there is a strand of lice that is resistant to over-the-counter treatments. While an annoyance, head lice, including this strand, can be effectively treated at home. Lice are a very common problem for preschool, kindergarten and elementary students. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 6-12 million infestations occur a year among children ages 3-11.

While typically not known for spreading disease, these parasites can be a nuisance to identify, treat and exterminate. As the school year begins, Felissa Kreindler, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares her insight on warning signs for detecting and treating head lice:

  • Avoid close head-to-head contact whenever possible. This can be done by not sharing hats, personal clothing and hair items, combs and brushes.
  • Stay clear of areas that have recently been infected. Don’t sit on couches and chairs that have been in close contact with someone who has recently had lice. Also be mindful of pillows, blankets, bedding , towels and other items that may have been exposed.
  • Know the symptoms of lice. These include: itching, sores on the head and feelings of something moving through the hair on the head. Combing through your or your child’s hair with a fine- toothed comb may help identify them.
  • Treat the person and the living area. It’s very important not just to treat the person with lice –this can be done with various over-the-counter treatments or by prescription-based treatments from your doctor—but also the areas and items that this person has been in contact with, such as clothing, bedding and towels listed above. Family members and others should also check for lice and follow similar treatment methods, if needed. 

Have you or your kids ever had lice? What did you do to get rid of them?

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