Learn now about lice prevention for your kids

08/19/2013 5:22 PM

09/06/2013 11:05 AM

With another school year upon us, this is the time to talk about lice.

Although very common, parents tend to get alarmed when a letter is sent home from school (or if their own child is diagnosed). Sure, this is a less-than-desirable situation to be in, but the key to controlling head lice is prevention—and prompt treatment.

Lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp. They can live in the hair for 30 days, and they lay eggs that look like dandruff. These eggs can live for more than two weeks.

The main symptom of lice is intense itching, but it’s important to understand that head lice do not spread any disease. Furthermore, lice is not an indication of poor hygiene.

The key to successful lice treatment is timing. If one member of your family has lice, it’s imperative to treat the entire family at the same time. If you do the kids one night, and wait to do yourself the next night, it can keep spreading.

Although there are over-the-counter treatments like Nix, they are not always effective (lice are resistant to it here in Miami), which is why I prefer a prescription foam called Olux. (Ask your doctor for it.)

Many parents are concerned about exposing their children to chemicals, but natural options like heavy oils don’t do more than weigh down the hair for days.

You can also find lice treatment centers across the country. You can go there for treatment, or they may even be able to come to your home. Just remember to wash all clothing and sheets the morning after treatment to remove any lingering eggs.

In terms of prevention, tell your children not to share hairbrushes or hats. If they are involved in activities with shared helmets, you may want to consider purchasing a product like LiceGuard’s Repellent Spray. This non-toxic, pesticide-free spray can be used directly on the head, as well as gear like helmets and hats.

The bottom line is, lice may be a nuisance, but it’s a fact of life especially when you have school-age children. With proper treatment, you can deal with the problem in only a day or two and move on.

About Dr. Leslie Baumann

Dr. Leslie Baumann

@BaumannCosmetic

Dr. Leslie Baumann founded the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute at UM in 1997 and served on the faculty, most recently as a Professor.

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