- No-Panic Guide to Head Lice Treatment
- Step 1: Know How Head Lice Spread
- Step 2: Contain the Problem
- Step 3: Understand the Life Cycle of a Head Louse
- Step 4: Consider ‘Destruction of Habitat’
- Step 5: Learn How Over-the-Counter Head Lice Treatments Work
- Step 6: Apply the Treatment as Directed
- Don’t Obsess Over Nits
- Keep an Eye on Head Scratching
- Johns Hopkins rolls out Covid-19 monitoring tool for healthcare workers
- Head Lice
- What causes head lice?
- Who is at risk for head lice?
- What are the symptoms of head lice?
- How are head lice diagnosed?
- How are head lice treated?
- Can head lice be prevented?
- When should I call my child’s health care provider?
- Key points about head lice
- Next steps
No-Panic Guide to Head Lice Treatment
It’s easy to get upset if you discover that your child has head lice. Thethought of tiny parasites in your child’s hair can lead to panic and rusheddecisions. Would you be less stressed if you knew that head lice aren’tknown to transmit diseases, and itching is the only major health issue theycause?
Johns Hopkins pediatric dermatologistBernard Cohen, M.D., offers tips for parents on how to get rid of head lice the right way.Let’s start with some head lice facts:
- Head lice are common in children between the ages of 3 and 11 years old.
- These pests are more prevalent in Caucasian children.
- They are more frequently found in girls than boys.
- Head lice live in all types of hair, whether it’s curly, straight, dyed or natural.
Step 1: Know How Head Lice Spread
Before you start treatment, understand how your child could have gottenhead lice. Head lice don’t jump, they don’t live on pets and they havenothing to do with personal hygiene.
The most common way head lice spreadis by head-to-head contact. This means your child must have been touchingheads with someone who has head lice.
This may happen during sports,slumber parties or play time in or outside of school.
A less ly way to get head lice is by sharing personal items that touchthe head, such as hats, hair brushes and hair accessories. Head lice needto have a blood meal every 12 to 24 hours, so they can’t survive away froma human head for longer than a day.
Step 2: Contain the Problem
Once your child comes home with a confirmed case of head lice, take stepsto prevent lice from spreading to other family members.
- Avoid hugging or other close contact.
- Check other kids and adults in your household for head lice.
- Often, by the time you get a call from a school nurse, your child has had head lice for a while. Your whole family may need to be treated to prevent reinfestation.
Washing hats, pillow cases and similar items that touch the head in hotwater may help contain head lice. “However, disinfecting your entire houseis not necessary, as transmission of head lice from inanimate objects israre,” Dr. Cohen says.
Step 3: Understand the Life Cycle of a Head Louse
To properly treat head lice, you need to understand your enemy. Head licecan be found in one or more of these forms:
- Head lice eggs (nits) are firmly attached to the base of the hair. They may look dandruff, but if you examine them with a magnifying glass, you can see that nits are oval-shaped and not flat.
- The egg produces a nymph, which has a greyish-white color and goes through three stages before becoming an adult.
- Adult head lice are tan-colored and can be seen moving quickly along the hair or across the scalp.
All three generations of head lice need to be nonviable, or dead, to getrid of head lice for good.
Step 4: Consider ‘Destruction of Habitat’
Head lice need a human host to survive. If the hair is gone, so are headlice. While cutting a child’s hair may seem an extreme solution, itmay be a viable course of action for some parents. If your child alreadygets short haircuts, it may make sense for you to deal with head lice bydestroying their habitat.
Step 5: Learn How Over-the-Counter Head Lice Treatments Work
Your first line of defense against head lice is an over-the-counter (OTC)head lice treatment that typically comes in the form of shampoo. The maindifference between various products is the active ingredient and whichstages of head lice it kills. Most OTC head lice treatments don’t killnits, so a second application may be necessary to kill the nymphs once theyhatch.
Some OTC head lice treatments use pyrethrins as the active ingredient.Pyrethrins naturally occur in flowers of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family chrysanthemums, also known as mums or chrysanths. If your child isallergic to these flowers, he or she may also be allergic to the head licetreatment that uses pyrethrins.
Step 6: Apply the Treatment as Directed
As Dr. Cohen points out, one of the reasons over-the-counter head licetreatments don’t work is because they are not used as directed. Parents maysplit one dose into several applications or otherwise deviate from thedirections.
You shouldn’t see any crawling head lice after the firsttreatment if you applied it correctly. If you are still seeing livecrawlers, then you may have missed a step or the treatment is not effectiveagainst the type of lice your child has.
Some parents turn to home remedies for head lice, such as tea tree oil,mayonnaise, neem oil, vinegar, saline spray and many others. Thesetreatments are messy, time consuming and not supported by scientificevidence. If you tried an OTC head lice treatment that didn’t work and youare certain that your child didn’t get reinfested, seek professional help.
It’s possible that you are dealing with head lice that are resistant to theactive ingredient in your treatment product. Consult with your pediatricianor contact apediatric dermatologistfor a prescription head lice treatment.
Don’t Obsess Over Nits
“A good rule of thumb is this: If no live crawling insects are seen threeweeks after the treatment, it’s safe to assume that you are in the clear,”Dr. Cohen says. If nits were alive, they would have hatched by now. Nitsand their shells may remain in the hair for some time but won’t be viable.
Many prescription head lice treatments target nits along with adult headlice. If you used a product this, no combing is necessary unless youcan’t wait to get rid of the dead shells.
Keep an Eye on Head Scratching
Unfortunately, there is no proven head lice deterrent that will preventyour child from getting head lice again. The best you can do is stay alertfor suspicious head scratching.
Itching is an allergic reaction tochemicals in a head louse’s saliva. Not all kids will experience itchingright away, but if they have had head lice before, they are more ly tostart itching sooner.
Catching this behavior early and treating it willhelp you stop a head lice problem at its roots.
Get more back-to-school health tips.
Johns Hopkins rolls out Covid-19 monitoring tool for healthcare workers
Emocha lets physicians track their temperature and record their symptoms in an asynchronous video chat.
Hospitals in Baltimore are rolling out a digital health startup’s tool to check up on healthcare professionals who many have potentially been exposed to Covid-19. Johns Hopkins Medicine and LifeBridge Health-affiliated hospitals are using a telehealth tool developed by Emocha.
Johns Hopkins Medicine had already been using Emocha’s software in its biocontainment unit, where patients with highly infectious diseases received treatment prior to the pandemic. Emocha has significantly expanded the program to help doctors, nurses and others treating patients with Covid-19.
“We thought, with the models of exposure and how this could ramp up in the U.S.
, we thought one of the most critical populations that we could help right away would be healthcare workers,” Emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer said in a phone interview. “My wife is an infectious disease doctor.
This is a very scary thing. We need our healthcare workers to be as safe as possible so they can take care of us and our families.”
Emocha monitors healthcare workers for 14 days after they’ve potentially been exposed to Covid-19. It asks them to fill out a form with their symptoms and temperature. The company also checks in with them using asynchronous video visits.
The company works with hospitals’ occupational health departments, getting a list of healthcare professionals that have been exposed to the virus and answering questions via a secure chat. Emocha’s team also triages cases, referring those with more severe symptoms to occupational health.
Seiguer said the company launched its Covid-19 tool 10 days ago, but it began scaling up staff about a month ago after the company was approached by Johns Hopkins’ infection control team. Two of Emocha’s advisors are infectious disease professors with Johns Hopkins University.
On Saturday, the company launched with LifeBridge Health, which operates five hospitals in the Baltimore area. The company is also in discussions with other hospitals, home care groups and urgent care centers.
Monitoring healthcare workers for symptoms is especially useful during a time when tests are still short in supply across the U.S., as labs face shortages in the swabs and reagents needed to run them.
While the ideal method would be to test everyone that had been exposed, and later retest for potential false negative results, for most hospitals, that simply isn’t an option.
On top of that, quarantining healthy doctors and nurses for 14 days means fewer people available to help treat patients.
“In the absence of really widespread testing, we have to go with what we know. What we know is someone who is symptomatic is more risky than someone who is asymptomatic,” Seiguer said.
“As this crisis continues — hopefully it won’t be too long, but we know it’s not at its peak — we need to know who’s asymptomatic and who’s experiencing symptoms, so we can get rosters updated and healthcare workers back to work as quickly as possible.”
Seiguer also emphasized the importance of having another person on the line to check in and share words of encouragement.
“People are scared, right?” he said. “They to know that somebody else knows about this and has their back. The support aspect is critical.”
This article has been updated with a newer image of Emocha’s system.
Photo credit: Emocha
Linkedin Pinterest Skin
Head lice are tiny parasitic bugs that can infest the skin. They live on people’s heads and feed on their blood. Head lice can cause intense itching.
There are two other types of lice: body lice and pubic lice. This health sheet will focus on head lice.
What causes head lice?
Head lice are very contagious. They spread from person to person by close body contact, and by shared clothes and other personal items. These can include things such as hats, hairbrushes, and combs.
Who is at risk for head lice?
Head lice are seen mostly in child-care settings and among school-aged children. It doesn’t matter how clean your child’s hair or your home may be. It doesn’t matter where children and families live, play, or work.
What are the symptoms of head lice?
The most common symptom of head lice is itching. The itching can be very bad, especially at night. Lice or their eggs (nits) can usually be seen on the hair, behind the ears, or on the neck. They can even be seen in the eyebrows and eyelashes.
How are head lice diagnosed?
The eggs laid by lice can usually be seen. This makes it easy for your child's healthcare provider to diagnose.
How are head lice treated?
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Lice are treatable. Treatment will include applying a medicated cream rinse or shampoo to your child’s hair. Many head lice medicines are available over the counter. Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine if the OTC medicines did not work for your child.
Talk with your healthcare provider about which rinse or shampoo would be best for your child. Do not use two forms of treatment at the same time. If one treatment does not work, use a different treatment or call your healthcare provider for advice.
In addition to the medicated cream rinse or shampoo, treatment may also include:
Removing nits from wet hair with a fine-tooth comb.
Soaking combs and brushes in hot water with the shampoo for at least 15 minutes.
Checking all other household members closely to see if anyone else needs to be treated.
Washing all bedding and clothing in hot water (130°F or 54°C), or sealing items that cannot be washed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
Children can return to school or daycare the day after their first treatment for head lice.
Can head lice be prevented?
You can help prevent head lice by:
Avoiding close physical contact with someone who has lice
Encouraging your child not to share hats, combs, brushes, towels, or other personal items.
Washing bed sheets, blankets, and other personal items to prevent lice from infesting other people.
When should I call my child’s health care provider?
Some lice treatments are available over the counter. But if you are unsure that your child has lice, or if a home treatment does not work, it is important to talk with your child’s healthcare provider.
Key points about head lice
Head lice are tiny parasitic bugs that can infest the skin on a person’s scalp.
Lice are highly contagious, spreading from person to person by close body contact, and by shared clothes and other personal items.
The eggs laid by lice can usually be seen. This makes it easy for your child’s healthcare provider to diagnose.
Lice are treatable. Some medicines are available over the counter, but talk with your child’s healthcare provider if you are unsure of the diagnosis.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s health care provider:
Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.