How to Get, Prevent and Treat Head Lice

Photography from Michael McCauslin via Flickr (CC)

There is a phone call that no parent wants to get: “Hello, Mr. Smith? Your child has head lice. Please come pick-up Johnny.” Now what do you do?

Head lice, a.k.a. nits, a.k.a pediculosis capitis, are an unwelcome but very common occurrence in school-age children all over North America according to The National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library for Medicine.

These little insects infect the hair on your child’s head, but have been known to move to eyebrows or eyelashes. The lice can live on a human head for up to 30 days while their eggs can last two weeks. They spread very easily between school children because they come into close contact with one another on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are no serious medical conditions associated with head lice, unlike their cousins, body lice, which can spread some uncommon diseases like trench fever.

Prevention is difficult, given the above circumstances, but at least you can say you tried! Telling your kids not to share hats, brushes, combs or dress-up wigs is a good start in preventing the spread of these itchy invaders.

If prevention fails and you kids becomes infested, seek treatment immediately to stem any further spreading to friends or family members. Options for treatment of head lice abound. Check out the Canadian Pediatric Society’s clinical update table for treatments, products and possible side effects.

If you feel like this is too much to handle, (treatment with shampoos and combing can take hours depending on the length and thickness of your child’s hair), The Lice Squad will come to your home (at a price of $.45/km one way from their nearest location) and for $70/hr, treat and remove the “nits” from your child’s hair with a guaranteed one-time visit. According to an article from The Vancouver Sun, business is booming for The Lice Squad ladies, so the best way to keep lice out of your home (and your child’s hair) is to be informed and take preventative measures.

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