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Lice As We Know It

If you have children, head lice is just part of life. This parasite is commonly transferred from child to child in schools and day care facilities. While infestations are a pain, head lice do not transmit diseases.

“If your kids get lice, you shouldn’t feel ashamed,” says Dr. Maria Cannarozzi, Medical Director of UCF Health. “It’s very common and in no way reflects personal hygiene habits.”

Head lice are mostly spread by direct head-to-head contact. They can also spread by sharing things like brushes, hats and bath towels of an infested person. It is far less common to catch lice that have fallen onto carpet or furniture since they will die in 1-2 days if they don’t feed. Also, nits (lice eggs) cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the scalp.

In recent news, you may have heard of “super lice.” This is how the media is referring to lice that have become more resistant to the over-the-counter drugs we most routinely use to treat the condition.

“The over-the-counter products are still the best way to treat head lice,” Dr. Cannarozzi said. “Follow the directions carefully. Sometimes parents don’t retreat after the suggested time period stated on the packaging, or they re-treat too soon before all the nits have hatched.”

Dr. Cannarozzi suggests that if you still see live bugs on the scalp 12 hours after treatment, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about an alternative treatment.

How to stop the spread of head lice:

 

  1. Check everyone in the family by closely examining hair and scalp — treat everyone who has evidence of lice (eggs or live parasites) 2. Don’t worry about your pets. Lice cannot live on animals.
  2. Since these bugs have to crawl (they don’t fly or hop) they don’t get far. You don’t need to go crazy with house cleaning. Wash bed linens, towels and clothing in hot water. Vacuum furniture and floors and any areas that infested persons had direct contact with.
  3. On a regular basis, soak brushes and combs in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Place any personal items that cannot be washed in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks to kill the lice (pillows, dolls, stuffed animals, etc.) 6. Continue checking the scalp for three weeks after completion of treatment to be certain all lice are gone and a re-infestation does not occur.

 

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.

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