According to Maria Lombardi, MD, pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), lice are highly contagious, and are spread from person to person (mostly children) via the direct contact of hair accessories, hats, pillows, bedding, and of course, heads.
To help prevent your child from contracting lice, encourage him or her to avoid sharing such items, and children with long hair are advised to tie it back.
“If a child has been exposed to lice, he or she should be checked for both live lice and eggs, also known as nits. Be sure to look carefully around the ears, the neck, the hairline and the crown of the head,” advises Dr. Lombardi. And remember, “You don’t have to have an itch to have lice.”
If you do find lice, don’t panic. Just be ready for lots of treating and washing.
“If one person in a family has a lice infestation, it’s recommended that everyone in the family get treated,” says Dr. Lombardi. “You can start with an over-the-counter medication, but lice can sometimes show resistance to these, and prescription medications are sometimes needed.” Additionally, “many families also hire a professional ‘nit-picker’ to treat the lice.”
Finally, to prevent further spread, be sure to launder all affected clothing and bedding in hot water and dry in high heat.
Do you have a health-related question for a WMCHealth physician or specialist? Email your questions to [email protected], with “Just the Facts” in the subject heading. Your question may be featured in a future issue.