Head Lice: What to Do If Your Child Comes Home From School With It

Your child gets off the bus with her hand in her head, scratching and complaining that she suddenly has bad dandruff. Red flag. If you hear your child say that they feel like they have something moving in their hair or can’t stop scratching their head, get your detective hat on immediately and pull out the magnifying glass because you’re going on a lice hunt.

If you’ve tried not to think about it, but have always wondered what to do if your child comes home from school with lice, here’s the good news: If it is indeed found to be head lice, with a little patience and perseverance, they can be treated easily. Also? You’re not alone. In fact, the CDC estimates that between 6 and 12 million lice infestations occur each year in the U.S. and are most common in kids between the ages of 3-11 years old.

Every parent believes their child will never contract lice but they still run the risk when entering school doors. It is common for this to occur around the holiday season when children tend to gather together to exchange gifts. This is nothing to be concerned about, for we are here to help you through the process. So get your rubber gloves on and be prepared to hunt down and wipe out those nasty lice!

Head Lice: What to do if your child comes home from school with it:

Let’s get one thing out of the way: head lice do not jump from one scalp to another! Despite what you may have heard, they actually stick to the scalp and feed on human blood throughout the day. Lice can be spread by the sharing brushes, combs, hats and other clothing of the infested person. Many schools and daycares regularly check for head lice and alert parents and caregivers promptly if they suspect an infestation.

Regardless of the source, these are the steps you should follow when checking your child for head lice:

  1. Use a magnifying glass and run a fine-toothed lice comb through the hair. Start from the scalp to ensure you’ve caught all the lice and nits. Depending on the location of the nits, the infestation may be inactive and no treatment is needed. Other cases dealing with live/active lice must be professionally treated.
  2. Purchase an over-the-counter remedy and follow the instructions carefully and fully.
  3. Monitor your child but know that most kids can return to school or daycare after the first treatment, although every institution is different so be sure to check their policies.
  4. If you don’t trust yourself to find those pesky critters, bring them in to our New Bedford urgent care center. Our trained providers are happy to treat your child’s head for you.

Prevent the spread of lice:

Head lice is not life-threatening, but it is important that it be diagnosed and treated in its’ early stages. The best way to prevent spreading is to alert anyone who may have come in contact with the person who has been diagnosed. That way, they can take precautionary measures beforehand such as washing linensvacuuming the house and soaking brushes and combs are advised. Make sure your kids know NOT to share combs, brushes, headbands or hats. 

Remember, contracting lice is not an indication of dirty hair or a sign of poor hygiene. Once diagnosed, it is easily treatable and your child can resume their normal activities fairly quickly.  If you want assistance in this process, please do not hesitate to bring them in to our New Bedford AFC urgent care center where we have professionals available 7 days a week, no appointment needed. Questions? Give us a call at 508-990-1900.


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