Head Lice — How to Prevent & Treat These Hair Pests | The North County Moms




Lice. Just the word is enough to make your head start itching. If you’ve got kids in school, though, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be exposed at some point, and if you’re unlucky, your kids will bring the pests home. To be prepared if and when that does happen, The Local Moms Network asked Lauren Eckert Ploch, MD, MEd, FAAD, a spokesperson for the American of Dermatology, to answer our pressing questions.

What is the best way to prevent lice in kids?
There are several ways to prevent lice in kids. Most kids learn this at an early age, but they should never share combs or brushes with other kids. They also shouldn’t share towels, hats, or hair accessories. Schools/daycares and parents should prevent kids from having head-to-head contact during nap time and other activities.

Do you recommend rosemary oil lice repellant shampoo?
Estrogenic effects of essential oils and the evidence that tea tree oil has caused breast growth in young boys makes any essential oil product a big NO for kids.

What is the easiest way to diagnose lice?
Lice can be seen with the naked eye. It’s often easier to see in the hair on the scalp behind the ear. It’s difficult to visually distinguish between nits (Iice eggs) and hair casts (not infectious). The best way to distinguish between these is to try to pull one down the hair shaft. Wear gloves while doing this. If it moves easily down the hair shaft, it’s a hair cast. Nits are difficult to move from the hair shaft.

What is the easiest way to eradicate lice once you have them?
The easiest way to treat lice is with an over-the-counter shampoo that kills lice (i.e. Rid, Nix, etc.). I recommend using this every few days for two to three weeks in case there are still lice in the home. I also recommend using a hair dryer on the high heat setting until the hair roots are dry. Before shampooing, it may help to apply an oil for 6-8 hours then gently comb out visible nits and lice.  

What should you do in your home to kill lice not on your kid?
If there is a lice breakout, make sure to wash everything in hot water including clothing, book bags, removable furniture covers, and bedding. Vacuum all bedding, floors, and furniture to remove potential lice.

At what point should you seek professional help, like a dermatologist or specialized lice service?
If the above methods aren’t working, see a dermatologist to make sure there isn’t another underlying condition (i.e. something that would cause hair casts, which can mimic lice).

Any myths about lice you’d like to clear up?
There are “super lice” that are resistant to over-the-counter treatments, but using an oil and combing the hair to remove lice and nits is effective in treating these drug-resistant lice, which is why there are businesses offering this service for a premium price. Most lice infestations do not need prescription medication treatment. (Ed note: But we won’t judge anyone who uses this services for convenience and peace of mind!)

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