You just got a call from the Danbury school nurse telling you that your child has head lice. Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Remember, if mom is calm, the child will be calm. Lice among kids happens all the time, especially at schools and daycares where kids are more likely to share personal items like hats, headbands or hairbrushes.
Even though you’ve gotten a heads up that your child may have a live lice infestation, lice are often misdiagnosed, so contact your healthcare provider if you’re not sure. However, once your child returns home, you can do a few things yourself before heading to the doctor.
So, what to do if your child has lice?
How to Check for Head Lice
- Ask your child if their scalp is itchy or they feel like something is moving in their hair. Though not an absolute indicator of lice since it could be dandruff, it’s a good start.
- Examine your child’s hair for live lice, specifically focusing on the scalp area using a fine-tooth comb.
- If you do not find any crawling lice, look for nits attached to a ¼ inch of the hair shaft. (If you find them attached to more than a ¼ inch of the shaft, they are likely dead and no treatment is needed).
- If you don’t want to tackle the ‘messy’ issue, bring them in to be checked out by professionals. We check for and treat lice here at both of our AFC urgent centers in Danbury.
Three Steps to Treat Head Lice
- Purchase an over-the-counter remedy recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Sometimes a prescription is needed.
- Follow the instructions carefully and fully. More than one treatment may be necessary for children with long hair but check with your healthcare provider. It is recommended that all clothing be removed to prevent staining from the topical treatment.
- Check your child’s hair and scalp for the next few days by continuing to comb through and remove any dead nits.
Kids can return to school or daycare after the first treatment but every institution is different so be sure to check their policies. As soon as one family member is diagnosed with active infestation, the entire family and all those whom the child has been in contact with should be checked. While it’s a good idea wash linens and vacuum, there’s no need to hire a professional cleaning service.
If you think your child has lice but are unsure and don’t want to tackle it alone, by all means bring them in to be seen at any of our Danbury walk in clinics where we have professionals on board who are happy to do the ‘dirty work’ for you. We’re open 7 days a week, no appointment needed, but you can always save time and check in online.