By Danielle Cigliano, DO FAAP | Pediatrics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated six to 12 million lice infestations occur each year in the U.S. among children three to 11 years of age. Head lice or Pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect that is spread by close person-to-person contact.
Head lice are transmitted through lice attaching their eggs to the base of the hair shaft and then moving through the head and neck. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s head; rather, they move by crawling and can attach themselves via infested clothing, bedding, and objects. Lice infestations can sometimes take up to several weeks before any itching occurs.
There are several ways parents and caregivers can help prevent children from getting head lice:
Be sure to examine your child’s head routinely as lice are often found along the hairline and behind the ears.
If your child is diagnosed with head lice, all household members and those within close contact should be examined for lice. There are treatment options for lice including over-the-counter and prescription medications. All clothes, bedding, towels, and stuffed animals and toys that have come into contact with lice should be washed in warm or hot water, depending on the fabric, and thrown in the dryer for a minimum of 20 minutes to effectively prevent re-infestation.