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Did You Know Cold and Flu Season is also Lice Season?

General Dermatology Exton, PAAs we make our way quickly through Fall, many of us are thinking about ways we can get ourselves and our families through cold and flu season relatively unscathed. We’re stocking up on vitamin C and might have already gotten a flu shot. For families with young children, this is also a time to think about how to spot and treat head lice should a breakout occur at school.

Lice breakouts are quite common during the winter months. The nearly-invisible critters that cause so much itching and heartache love to hop from hoods to hats situated side-by-side in classrooms and then onto the precious heads that wear them. Approximately 12 million children contract head lice each year. Those affected aren’t just school-aged, either; many toddlers come home from daycare with this condition or get it when lice spread to them from a sibling.

Getting head lice is not an indication that a child is lacking in the grooming department. This common condition is just a matter of chance. If a child complains of intense itching of the scalp or can be seen scratching their head a lot, parents have a good reason to take a very close look at individual strands of hair for indications of head lice. The tiny creatures that cause extraordinary itching may accumulate at the nape of the neck or behind the ears. A fully-grown louse is brown and about the size of a sesame seed. What may be easier to see are the light-colored eggs that attach to the hair shaft.

Head Lice Treatment

Most cases of head lice can be treated with an over-the-counter product (Nix) containing 1% permethrin. Shampoo containing piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrins might also be used. These need to stay on the head for 10 minutes before rinsing. When using a lice remedy, it is crucial to follow instructions exactly to achieve the desired outcome comfortably and safely. Usually, treatment needs to be repeated after one week.

In addition to using an appropriate lice-killing product, it is necessary to wash all clothing, bedding, and bath linens that have come into contact with the affected person. Stuffed animals are not-exempt; they need to be washed, also. If an item cannot be washed, it can be placed into the dryer on high setting for 30 minutes. If neither cleaning option is possible, an item may be placed in an airtight container for 1 to 2 weeks.

Medical care is not always needed to treat lice, but it may be necessary if home remedies do not work as intended. For information on lice treatment, call 610.594.6660.

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