Head Lice: A Common Back-to-School Problem

Summer is almost over and kids will soon be off to school. No parent wants to get that phone call saying that their child has head lice. And no parent wants to discover that their child has brought lice home!

Head lice are insects that do not transmit disease. They can be found on the scalp, behind the ears, near the neckline at the back of the neck, and sometimes on brows and lashes.

Louse eggs, called nits, are very small—about the size of a knot in thread—and can be very hard to see. Sometimes they are be mistaken for dandruff or hair spray droplets.

Head lice are most common in preschool and elementary school children. Children 3 to 11 years old get head lice most often. Those who have head-to-head contact with someone who has head lice are at the greatest risk.

Having head lice is a fairly common problem and has nothing to do with hygiene or good parenting. Also, dogs and cats don’t get or spread human lice.

If you discover that your child has head lice, let your child’s day care or school staff know so others can check their children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend treating people who do not already have head lice—only those that are confirmed to have them.

There are several products available over-the-counter, or by prescription, to treat head lice. Talk to your doctor about your options.

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