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Close up of a parent's hands combing through a child's hair

Head Lice Treatment and Prevention

By Dr. Diana Stafford, PDC Pediatrics

While head lice are a common problem in preschool and elementary school-age children, the good news is they do not spread disease and can be treated easily at home.

Anyone can get lice, even those with good health habits and who frequently wash their hair. Lice spread through head-to-head contact and by sharing hats, scarves, and coats. Sharing combs, brushes, and towels may also spread lice.

To prevent the spread of lice, teach children not to share personal items like hats or combs and to store personal items like hats and clothing in lockers, cubbies, or individual bags instead of hooks. Pediatricians also recommend regularly checking for head lice at home.

If you discover that your child has lice, do not panic. Check the heads of everyone at home and treat those with live lice or lice eggs (nits) using these tips:

  • Purchase an over the counter medicated cream rinse or shampoo and follow the instructions for treatment. Do not use two forms of treatment at the same time! If OTC products don't work, call your pediatrician.
  • Treatment may also include removing nits from wet hair with a fine-tooth comb and soaking combs and brushes in hot water with medicated shampoo for at least 15 minutes.
  • Lice rarely survive off the scalp for more than 48 hours. Wash, soak, and dry bedding and clothing used in the past three days at temperatures over 130 degrees F to get rid of stray lice or nits. Seal anything that can't be washed in plastic bags for two weeks.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.