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Head lice is very common among school age children. Approximately ten percent of all elementary school children will come home with head lice at some point during the school year. It is untrue that head lice mainly affects people who are poverty stricken or dirty. Anyone can get head lice. Anytime there are many people in close contact where coats and hats are together or shared, lice can be transferred.

One of the first symptoms of head lice is an intense itching. You can check your child's hair for lice with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Lice are visible with the naked eye, but are easier to see if magnified. The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed and is grayish brown in color. The eggs or nits are small, brownish-white, and oval shaped. The lice lay their eggs on the hair shafts usually close to the scalp. They can't easily be removed like dandruff.

The first step to eliminating head lice is to purchase a good quality lice treatment that contains permethrin. It's very important to follow the label directions carefully to ensure that the lice and unhatched eggs are killed. Other family members should also be checked for lice and treated if necessary.

After shampooing the hair, the eggs will have to be removed with a special fine tooth comb. It is very important to remove all of the nits in case they have not been killed. Most schools have a "no nit" policy, meaning your child cannnot return until all nits have been removed. The shampoo may not kill all of the nits, and any that are still alive will hatch in about a week causing another infestation. Removing the nits is easiest when the hair is damp. It's best to go through the hair section by section until the entire head has been combed and checked. It is very tedious and takes a lot of time, but it's necessary to remove all of the nits. Good lighting is important when trying to locate the nits.

Any clothing, sheets, hair accessories, or any other personal articles the infected person has come in contact with will need to be washed in hot, soapy water. If it is not possible to wash an item, it can be sealed in a plastic bag for a period of two weeks. Also, any area the infected person has come in contact with should be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. The vacuum bag will have to be disposed of so any live lice or eggs can't reinfest your home. Lice killing sprays are available to use on upholstery and carpets.

Teach your children not to share combs, brushes, hats, or any personal items with others. Be sure to notify your child's day-care or school if you should discover he has lice. It's important for everyone who has come in contact with him to be checked in order to prevent further outbreaks.