Seeing tiny, white specks in your child’s hair might cause panic, but head lice is a very common problem for children. In fact, between six and 12 million children get infected with head lice each year. It’s usually spread by direct head-on-head contact. However, because lice can survive for a short period of time on clothing and other items, it can also be spread by sharing a hairbrush or hat.
What are the Symptoms of Head Lice
Children will usually have one or more of the following symptoms if they have head lice:
- Itchy scalp
- Red scalp and neck – Some children itch so much the scalp and neck might become irritated and red.
- A crawling sensation on the scalp
- Finding lice eggs in hair
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pink eye
How To Check Your Child for Head Lice
Though the tiny, six-legged insects are small, head lice and lice eggs can be spotted by the naked eye. Here are the steps for checking your child’s head for lice:
- Step 1 – Part your child’s hair in various places. Check the scalp, behind the ears and the neck. Don’t be alarmed if you see sores from where your child has been scratching.
- Step 2 – Look for lice eggs (nits). Lice move very quickly, so it’s easier to look for lice eggs, also known as nits. The eggs look like tiny white or yellow sacs that are attached to the hair near the scalp.
- Step 3 – Verify that the spots you find are nits and not dander. Nits will feel like grains of sand and will stick to the hair like glue.
- Step 4 – If you’re still not sure whether your child has lice, wet their hair and separate it into pieces with a thin comb. Wetting the hair will make it easier to see the nits. Shake the comb out into a plastic bowl after each stroke.
How To Treat Head Lice in Children
Combing and oil treatments – Coat the hair or comb with oil. Separate the hair into sections and comb through it slowly. Work under a bright light so you can see what you’re doing. It’s important to rinse the comb under warm water often. After all the hair has been combed through, wash your child’s hair with regular shampoo and wash all towels that were used throughout the treatment.
Treat with essential oils – A combination of essential oils and olive oil can be effective when it comes to treating head lice. Mix two ounces of olive oil with 20 drops of tea tree oil, lavender oil, neem oil or clove oil. Add the oil mixture to the scalp with cotton balls. Leave on overnight and rinse your child’s hair with shampoo and conditioner the next morning.
Over-the-counter head lice products – There are several products available at a local drug store to treat head lice. Carefully follow the instructions on the package and look at your child’s hair after eight hours of use. If the product seems to be working, wait two days to wash your child’s hair. Continue to comb through the hair once a day until all the lice is gone.
Contact a pediatrician at The Pediatric Center in New Providence, NJ for more information on treating head lice.
Tags: Head Lice, How to Treat Head Lice, New Jersey, New Providence, Pediatrician