Health Tip: Getting Rid of Head Lice

A common problem for school-age children

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(HealthDay News) -- Lice are small parasitic insects that are easily spread from person to person via head-to-head contact, sharing clothes, hats, hairbrushes, bed linens or towels. They are often passed to children at schools or child-care centers. Although lice do not spread disease, they bite and can cause discomfort, irritation and itching.

The Nemours Foundation recommends looking at your child's hair if you notice him scratching and complaining of itching or pain of the scalp. Lice are visible to the eye, are typically tan or beige, but may appear darker or lighter based on the color of your child's hair.

Medicated shampoos, creams and lotions are available by prescription and over-the-counter to treat head lice. These preparations, however, should not be used on children age two or younger.

All clothing, stuffed animals and bedding, including pillows, should be washed in hot water or dry cleaned, the foundation says.

Any hair accessories -- like barrettes, hair elastics, brushes, and combs -- should be soaked for one hour in alcohol or medicated shampoo, washed in hot water or just thrown away. Because lice are spread so easily from person to person, all members of the home should take precautions to kill any lice or eggs they may have picked up from the child.

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