2 Your Health: Low down on head lice

New research presented at a recent clinical meeting suggests they may be more of a challenge to treat. Scientists believe lice found in several states have developed a resistance to some over-the-counter treatments.

CHARLESTON, SC – Head lice: just thinking about it is enough to make you itch. Although they aren’t dangerous, these tiny insects are certainly frustrating and can spread easily, especially at school.

New research presented at a recent clinical meeting suggests they may be more of a challenge to treat. Scientists believe lice found in several states have developed a resistance to some over-the-counter treatments.

And anyone is susceptible.

“They like clean, they like dirty, they like rich, they like poor, even adults can get head lice,” says pediatrician JoAnn Robinson..

The small, sesame seed-sized insects like to live in human hair and are passed from person to person.

They’re usually spread through close contact like the sharing of hats, combs, brushes or pillows. Head lice don’t spread disease but they can cause itching when they bite.

Itching is a telltale sign that your child has lice – especially if they’re itching behind the ears and at the back of the neck. Kids may scratch lice bites until they bleed, and like any open wound, they can become infected.

Children may also mention that something is moving or tickling in their hair.

Lice are brownish-grey, crab-like bugs and they move fast. They also leave little white lice eggs, which are called nits, in the hair.

“Nits will almost look like dandruff flakes except they may be approximately one-inch away from the scalp and they’re sticky,” says Dr. Robinson.

How to prevent lice

  • Talk to children about lice.
  • Teach them not to share combs, brushes, towels, or hats with others.
  • Examine and treat all members of your household who have had contact with someone who has lice.
  • Tell the school, daycare center or babysitter if your child has lice.

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