By: Chad Zawacki, PA-C
As children return to the classroom over the next few weeks school nurses as well as other medical providers typically see an increase in cases of head lice.
What is head lice?
Head lice are very small hard to see insects that are found on the scalp with eggs found on hair follicles. These insects feed off human blood from the scalp.
How do I get head lice?
Head lice is typically transferred from one person to another and is typically seen in young kids as they are in close contact with one another when playing and sharing toys/clothing and hats. It is important to note that having head lice does not indicate poor hygiene or poor living conditions and the lice do not carry any sort of bacteria or virus.
Symptoms of lice?
The most common symptom is itching of the scalp. If one were to inspect the scalp you may note the eggs also known as knits from the lice present on hair follicles. There may also be no symptoms at all until inspection of the scalp is performed.
How is head lice diagnosed?
Direct inspection of the scalp and hair follicles by a trained medical professional will show tiny white eggs present on the hair follicles. What is important to note about these eggs on the hair follicles is that if you try to remove them from the hair they will not come off unlike dandruff. One may also note live lice moving around but these often times are hard to notice as they are extremely small. A lot of times a school nurse will go around to each elementary classroom and inspect each child’s scalp for signs/symptoms of head lice and if any child is suspected of having lice they will be instructed to seek medical treatment.
Over the counter medications such as permethrin also known as nix can be tried first that is toxic to the lice and should kill them. If this fails prescription strength medications may be prescribed such as Invermectin (Nix) or Lindane.
If you suspect your child may have head lice or does indeed get sent home with a diagnosis of head lice by the school nurse feel free to stop by 45 Urgent Care where we are more than happy to treat your condition!