Dermatologists and Skin Care

How to Protect Your Kids from Head Lice Infestation?

Written by
Dr. Vinay Kumar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Aug 29, 2015 and last reviewed on Sep 12, 2018   -  2 min read

Abstract

Abstract

This article discusses in detail the prevention and treatment of head lice.

How to Protect Your Kids from Head Lice Infestation?

Pediculosis Capitis:

The medical condition which involves infestation with the human lice is named as pediculosis capitis. Head lice (lice is the plural of louse) is one of the commonest parasitic infestations involving infection with the adult mites and their eggs leading to various degrees of skin and hair changes that may be mild to severe.

Points to Remember About Head Lice

  • The lice feed and grow on human hairs especially scalp and lay their eggs in the hair. The lice can be seen with naked eye although it is common to see the aggregates of eggs (called nits) attached to the shafts of hairs. To check that the structures attached to hairs are indeed eggs of lice, a fairly simple way is to attempt detaching the suspected nits away from the hair. In the case of nits, you will not succeed at that but you can slide the nits along the length of the hairs.
  • The infection mainly affects the pre-school and school children with more girls being affected than the boys. However, no age is exempted from this condition. It is the hygiene that matters most. The condition is diagnosed on the basis of visual examination and/or symptoms.
  • The infection spreads by direct as well as contact mediated by shared objects particularly combs and hair brushes.
  • The lice feed on blood and die if they are not fed for a couple of days.

Symptoms

The most frequent complaints in head lice infections are:

  1. Irritation.
  2. Rash.
  3. Bumps.
  4. Swollen glands.
  5. Oozing and matting of hair.
  6. Fever.

Please do remember that many cases may be free of symptoms despite carrying the infection. It is very important to trace the source(s) of infection and treat all contacts simultaneously.

Prevention and Treatment of Head Lice

  • It makes good sense for the patient to have a haircut before starting the treatment.
  • Prior to starting treatment, it should be ensured that secondary infection in the form of ulcers, pus-filled lesions, and bumps have been adequately taken care of because the main treatment involves the use of medicines which may irritate the skin all the more if used without controlling secondary infection first.
  • The treatment involves the application of medication to the whole scalp and all along the length of hairs after washing and combing with fine comb having narrow spaces between the bristles. It must be left in place for one to two nights so that there is sufficient contact of medicine with the infected area.
  • From time to time, manual removal of nits with special combs is highly useful as it reduces the overall load of infection.
  • All contacts should receive the treatment simultaneously.
  • The treatment should be repeated week after week as long as all live mites have been killed and the nits have been removed. This is generally ensured by simple visual scanning.
  • Periodic examination of the scalp is necessary to prevent a recurrence.
  • It is equally important to treat the infected person’s head and scalp accessories in an appropriate manner to disinfect them. The heat-resistant clothes can be machine washed using hot cycle at a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius or higher in water for 20 minutes, or sealed in plastic bags and stored for two weeks. One can soak combs and brushes in alcohol or chemical disinfectant, dried, and sealed in plastic bags and stored again in freezer for two weeks.

Consult a dermatologist online for queries regarding head lice --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

Last reviewed at:
12 Sep 2018  -  2 min read

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