Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Contagious is Lice?

I was picking up my daughter from dance last week when I saw a sign on the door saying that there has been an outbreak of lice in the local elementary schools in the area as well as some of the kids at the gym.  Great.  I wonder if I'll be seeing some folks come into the office.  But now as a mommy of a preschooler, I'm checking her hair for any signs of lice... namely:
  • intense itching of the scalp
  • tiny red bumps scalp, neck, or shoulders (may become crusty)
  • tiny white specks that are hard to get off (lice eggs or nits)
So here is a short 101 on lice: 

What is it?   Tiny insects that live on the skin and depending on where you can have:
  • Head Lice
  • Body Lice
  • Pubic Lice
How do you get it?  It is very contagious!  You get it by:
  • close contact with someone who has it
  • touching clothing or bedding of someone who has it
  • sharing brushes, combs, hats, towels with someone who has it
How do you treat it?
  • lotions and shampoos either over the counter or if necessary prescription by your doctor
  • remove nits with metal comb
  • wash all clothing, bedsheets, etc in hot water with deteregent
  • vacuum and cover furniture for 2 weeks
  • need to notify schools/churches/gyms so other children can be examined otherwise infection may recur
Complications?  Sometimes you can a secondary infection from scratching too much.  You can use benadryl for itching.  Call your doctor if experience redness/pain at the skin sites and an antibiotic may get prescribed.

At the end of the day, it is harmless and it does not mean poor hygiene.  However, it is a bit of a pain to treat.  I'll be happy lice hunting for these next few days I suppose...