Hassles of Head Lice - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Hassles of Head Lice

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Doctors say this time of year they see more cases of head lice and while they are not a major threat to your health, getting rid of them is a big hassle.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends schools allow students to stay in class arguing among other things, that missing class hurts students, parents and the community more than lice.

"A lot of people say, well there's lice around in the schools in my kid's play group or what have you and what's the worst thing that could happen?" says Dr. Christopher Chai, "You might scratch it a lot, you might break the skin. You might introduce something else but the lice itself generally doesn't cause any bad outcomes to occur."

He says the itching and irritation is caused by the louse's saliva as it feeds on your blood. Killing the living bugs and getting rid of any eggs (nits) before they hatch. Shampoo or creams can be found at most pharmacies or grocery stores or even by prescription to kill lice. In order to get rid of the nits you need a fine tooth comb, and go through the hair layer by layer all the way across the head looking for nits. Make sure to get the comb as close to the scalp as possible. Dr. Chai says you should only need one or two treatments of shampoo or cream about a week apart. He says to keep looking for nits each day for one to two weeks.

"The female kind of glued them to your hair. And so you really have to do a good job, doing it systematically, going layer by layer, side by side, all the way across the head for the entire family."

If one person in your family has them, you should check everyone in the home to make sure the bugs haven't spread. That happens most commonly through direct head-to-head contact. Lice cannot jump or fly but can be transmitted through a hat or a brush because the bugs can live without food (blood) for 1-2 days. 

"The other preventative things we can do is wash all the things that you can wash in hot water," says Dr. Chai. He says you can vacuum larger items like car seats or couches. Any items in question, Dr. Chai says to put in a plastic bag to starve any surviving lice, "Here's the thing, lice need human blood to survive. So they need to feed on the order of a couple times a day. And they can't live for usually longer than 1-2 days without human blood at all."

More information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention click here.

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