Not many things create the level of dismay as finding out your child has lice. While it is not true, many people associate lice with being unclean. This can lead to stigma if your child has lice. Lice infestations have nothing to do with hygiene. Young children are more likely to catch lice than others because of their affinity for close contact.
One session of lice treatment will probably test both you and your child’s patience. The idea of treating more than one time may seem like a nightmare. Unfortunately, one treatment does not always resolve the issue. If your child continues to catch lice, there are some things you can do.
Are You Sure It’s Lice?
The first step is to be sure your child has lice. If you treat once with a pesticide, the lice situation should resolve. Take a closer look at your child’s scalp. Lice themselves are difficult to see as they move very quickly. They are most often diagnosed by their nits or eggs. It is easy to mistake dandruff or scaly, dry skin patches for nits, particularly if your child has thick or curly hair.
Re-infestation or Resistance?
If it is indeed lice, there may be a few things going on. The first is that your initial treatment did not kill all of the nits. Because of the lifecycle of lice, you may need to do another lice treatment about one week after the first. Hopefully, this will clear up the issue.
If you still notice lice, there could be one of two things going on. The first is that your child is getting re-infested with lice. The other is that the lice are resistant to the pesticide you are using. Neither situation is ideal, but each requires a different type of treatment.
Look carefully at your child’s environment. Try to determine if they may be getting reinfested. If they share a bed with a sibling, treat both children at the same time. If they caught lice in the classroom, talk to the teacher.
Sitting close together and sharing work often results in children touching heads. This, along with sharing combs and hats, is the most common way lice are transmitted.
Unfortunately, as long as lice are being transmitted through the classroom, it will be difficult to eliminate them. Ideally, your child’s teacher should monitor the students and enforce personal space while this issue is occurring.
To determine if the issue is infestation or resistance, check your child’s head thoroughly a day or two after treatment. If your child still has lice and has not been re-exposed the issue is probably resistance. A visit to your pediatrician will provide more options.
If your child’s lice situation is determined to be from resistant lice, prescription medication may be in order. Expect to explain to the doctor exactly what type of treatment measures you have taken. Doctors want to make sure you have tried over the counter methods before resorting to prescription medications. This helps prevent the lice from building up a resistance to these medications as well.
Older thinking required that everything in the house is treated aggressively for lice when one child in the household had them. Lice do not live very long off of the human head. Wash your child’s bedding and towels in hot water and vacuum any stuffed animals they sleep with. A top to bottom cleaning of your home isn’t necessary. If the affected child shares a bed, that person should be treated for lice at the same time.
Minimizing Pesticide Exposure
Wet combing is a way to get rid of lice, but it requires a great deal of patience from both parent and child. You may not want to invest in it the first time your child has lice but may want to try it on re-occurring situations. This minimizes exposure to prescription medications or another dose of over the counter products.
You will apply a heavy conditioner to your child’s entire head. If your child has long hair, you may want to stick it in a shower cap after applying the conditioner. Let the conditioner sit for at least 15 minutes. Use a nit comb, which has teeth that are very close together, to comb through the hair. Go slowly, from top to bottom, a section at a time.