Lice: What to do

I am terrified of my child catching lice and there is an outbreak at her school. What can I do to prevent her from catching this?

Lice continue to be a very commonly shared infestation by kids in preschool and elementary school settings. And, unfortunately, a number of misconceptions about families whose children get lice remain. Families across the whole spectrum of a community will have children who develop lice infections, in spite of the best efforts of parents and school officials.

Preventing exposure is the best way to reduce your child’s chances of infection. Not sharing hats, caps, headgear, combs and hair brushes will go a long to prevent these tiny “critters” from spreading. If your child is affected by a lice outbreak, he or she will likely start itching their scalp and may develop an itching-related rash along their hair line. 

Inspecting the scalp closely for tiny moving lice or for pinpoint nits cemented to hair shafts near the scalp will usually confirm if they are affected by lice. There are a number of very effective over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat this problem. There are a number of other home remedies that may actually be quite effective. Washing bedding, hats and other household items that your child’s head comes in contact with is also helpful. Finally, if you have any questions about lice, its diagnosis or treatment, please talk with your pediatric professional.

This column is intended to provide general information only and not medical advice. Contact your health care provider with questions about your child. Dr. Peter Dehnel is a board-certified pediatrician and medical director with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Send questions to