Lice Aren't Nice - How to Manage This Common Pest

I heard a typical childhood nightmare story the other day. A mom was telling me about her child’s encounter with lice. Ugh.

If you’ve never had to deal with lice, be ever so grateful. Lice infestations can extremely tough to get rid of without diligent effort. That means careful cleaning and monitoring of your child’s hair and scalp before moving on to laundering bed linens, clothing, towels, caps, and whatever else your child has come in contact with.

In short, lice can be a labor-intensive pain in the neck.

Lice can live on your child’s head for up to 30 days; the eggs can survive for more than two weeks. These pests also multiply quickly. You can most easily see them at the nape of the neck or around your child’s ears. Their presence may cause itching and a loss of sleep.


• Intense itching of the scalp
• Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, & shoulders (bumps may become crusty/ooze)
• Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off                              

  Lice are easily spread from head to head, which is why school outbreaks are common. The good news is that lice carry no disease and aren't harmful to your child's health. Nor are they a sign of poor hygene. While lice have a deservedly lousy reputation, we’ve found several resources that will come in handy when ridding your home of this unwanted pest.


It is safest to use a combing tool to remove lice. Treat your child’s hair with a hair conditioner or canola oil, then comb hair and pick out lice by hand. Time consuming? Yes, but safe. Be wary of toxic substances sold, as they can be caustic. Learn more about lice combs at here.

Lotions and shampoos containing 1 percent permethrin (Nix) often work well, with a reapplication 7- to 10-days later. These products can be bought at the store without a prescription. If these do not work, ask your pediatrician for a prescription for stronger medicine. Use the medicine exactly as directed by the manufacturer.

Learn more about treatment at Le Bonheur’s Pediatric Center.


• Wash bed linens and clothing in hot water, then tumble dry in a hot dryer for 20 minutes.

• Vacuum areas where kids with lice have been playing.

• Don’t share brushes, hats, scarves, towels, or other items that go around the head to prevent passing lice.

• Limit sleepovers and contact with others when lice are active.

• Check your child several times a week after treatment to make sure lice are gone.

• Regularly check your child's scalp to ensure the absence of lice, particularly after camp or sleepovers.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


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