Dealing with head lice can be quite bothersome.

Nobody enjoys dealing with creepy-crawlies, but insects are a part of life. The most troublesome types are those that crawl on us, and unfortunately, head lice are right at the top of that list, especially for young children.

Head lice are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood. They can’t fly or jump but can move through hair quickly. Lice are transmitted through close contact with another person who has lice (such as at a daycare or school) or by using items like a coat, hat, or hairbrush that belong to someone with lice.

Common symptoms of lice include:

1. Itching: Lice saliva triggers an allergic reaction when they feed on blood, leading to itching.

2. Seeing Eggs or Lice: Parents may observe eggs or nits in their children’s hair.

Upon discovering that a child has lice, there are over-the-counter treatment kits available, typically containing shampoo, cream, and/or a rinse. It’s crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided with each kit, as treatments may vary.

Some recommendations for the best head lice treatment:

1. Avoid Washing or Blow Drying: Parents should refrain from washing or blow-drying their child’s hair for a few days. Certain products are flammable, and exposing them to heat on a child’s head is not advisable. Additionally, a hair dryer can spread lice further if it blows live lice out of the child’s hair.

2. Use a Fine-Toothed Comb: After the child’s hair has been treated, parents should use a fine-toothed comb to meticulously comb through each strand of the child’s hair. Lice leave eggs and nits (empty eggs), which don’t come out with treatment alone. Leaving even one egg or nit in the hair can lead to a recurrence of lice, requiring additional treatment.

3. Be Diligent: Distinguishing between regular dandruff and lice nits can be challenging. Dandruff easily blows off the hair, while nits must be physically removed with a fine-toothed comb. Nits tend to gather at the scalp, as lice prefer the warmth close to the skin.

4. Continue Using the Comb: Parents should use the nit comb daily for the first week, then weekly for the next three weeks. The nit comb should be used for two weeks after finding the last nit to ensure complete removal of all lice. It’s also advisable to use another treatment 10 to 14 days after the initial treatment.

5. Do a Second Treatment if Needed: Some parents face recurrent lice issues, often because nits were overlooked in the initial treatment. Parents can perform a second or third treatment on their child, but seeking advice from a doctor is recommended before further treatments. Prescription options are available, especially if certain lice strains have become resistant to treatment.

6. Be Patient: Remember that lice are common and don’t indicate poor hygiene. Lice affect families across all socio-economic backgrounds, and patience and diligence are key to successful removal.