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Watch pediatrician Lisa Dana show how to do a lice shampoo and comb-out on your child.
Lice is everywhere. It is not a hazard to your child's health and it is not a sign of a dirty home. It's just a nuisance.
The good news is that it's not that hard to treat.
We're going to show you a few simple steps to treat lice when you get that note home from school.
The first step in treating lice is confirming that your child actually has it. You'll want to look behind the ears and at the nape of the neck for both live lice and nits.
Nits are lice eggs and nits are actually often confused for dandruff or other skin flakes. The difference is that nits stick like glue to the hair shaft whereas dandruff can easily be flicked off.
For treatment, most people start with an over-the-counter lice shampoo. This is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Make sure you follow the directions closely on the box.
You'll want to use a cloth or towel to cover your child's eyes while you're shampooing, so that none of the lice shampoo actually gets in your child's eyes.
You'll massage the shampoo from the roots to the ends of the hair. After shampooing, you'll need to do a thorough comb-out with a metal lice comb.
This process can take anywhere between one and three hours, depending on the length of your child's hair. It's a good idea to have a children's book or video on hand to help pass the time.
Make sure you have these supplies ready for the comb-out:
- a regular comb
- a metal lice comb
- clips or barrettes to hold sections of your child's hair
- a bowl filled with soapy water to clean the comb
- paper towels to wipe the lice comb
- a cloth towel to place around your child's shoulders
- strong reading glasses or a magnifying glass to see better
- and lots of bright light, such as a bright lamp that can be directed at the area you're combing
Before the comb-out, wet the hair and add conditioner. Remove the tangles with a regular comb.
The conditioner may help slow down the lice and make it easier to see the nits
on the comb. Follow these steps for a thorough comb-out:
Part your child's hair down the middle and clip up one half so it's out of the way.
On the loose side, pick up one small section of hair, about the width of your lice comb. Start at the scalp to catch the nits, which are laid and hatched just a fraction of an inch from the scalp.
Pull the comb all the way through to the end of the hair. Comb each section in multiple directions: up, down, left, and right. You may see lice on the comb after you pull it through the hair. Dip the comb into a bowl of soapy water or wipe it with a paper towel after each swipe. Keep combing each section until the comb comes up clean – no lice or nits.
Twist the combed hair and clip it to the head. When you finish the whole head, unclip the hair and rinse out the conditioner. Rinse the comb and clips in hot soapy water to clean them. Wash the clothes you and your child were wearing during the comb-out.
Remember, lice is manageable and you will survive it.