If your school was like mine, for several years in elementary school, every now and then everyone would wait in a line at the school nurse’s office to be checked with lice. They would part your hair with those thick popsicle stick-like things as they searched your hair for lice.
In the US alone, it is estimated that about 6-12 million children (ages 3-12) get head lice each year! But what is lice? How & why do children get it? Let’s find out!
(Photo from the AAD)
What is Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny bugs that live in the hair. They bite the scalp to get blood, which is what they feed on, much like mosquitoes.
Who Gets it? Why?
Anyone can get lice, but it is especially common in preschool & elementary school-aged children. Girls tend to get it more than boys do. There is a misconception that only people who don’t wash their hair often are the ones that get lice, but this is just that – amisconception. As these bugs are feeding off of the blood, they are equally at home in squeaky clean hair as in dirty hair.
Lice cannot jump or fly; they can only crawl. They spread by crawling from one head to another (which is a reason why girls get lice more often than boys; they are more likely to be head-to-head with friends) or from crawling into a hat, towel, pillow or other item that is frequently in contact with the head & hair.
How do I know if my child has lice? How do I check for it?
Classic symptoms include:
*Itchy scalp & scratching
*Feeling that something is crawling on the hair or scalp
*Seeing the bugs, which look like light-brown sesame seeds. They may be seen on the hair, skin or clothing
*Finding the lice eggs, which are yellow, tan or brown & the size of a pinhead. The eggs appear to be glued to the hair.
*Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
How do I treat it?
There are over the counter treatments available to treat lice. Be sure to read the directions carefully and to follow them closely. These treatments are typically a shampoo-type product that you leave on the hair for several minutes & rinse off accompanied by a lice comb that is specifically designed to remove lice nits & eggs. For more details, check out the AAD website on treatment: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/head-lice/diagnosis-treatment
For More Information:
AAD – Head Lice
AAD – Lice (For Kids!)