Head Lice

Head lice are tiny insects, 2-3mm long, which lay their eggs firmly attached to the base of the hair shaft.  These eggs typically hatch in 1-2 weeks and produce an adult louse within 2 weeks.  Head lice infestation is most common among preschool and elementary school children.  All children can potentially be affected, and poor personal hygiene is not a significant risk factor for acquiring head lice.  Transmission occurs by direct contact with the head of an infected individual.  Sharing a bed with a carrier of head lice increases the risk of transmission, but sharing combs, brushes, or hats is rarely a source of transmission.  

How is it treated?

Initial treatment involves the use of Nix, an over-the-counter medicated shampoo.  Please follow the directions on the bottle closely, and consider treating family members who share a bed with the patient.  Wash all sheets, pillowcases, and clothing the child used in the past 48 hou rs in hot water.  Clean brushes and combs.  Because not all eggs can be killed in the first application, your doctor may recommend repeating Nix in 7-10 days.  If the above treatment does not resolve the problem, please see your physician.

This page was authored by Dr. Robert Higginbotham.