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It's that time of year again.  Be on the lookout for lice.  Lice is an easily treated condition that is generally not associated with any serious medical complications.  Head lice are usually transmitted through close personal contact with another infested individual or by the sharing of combs and other hair accessories, or through co-mingling of these items at home, at homes of friends, at schools, at churches, or at other public places.  

What to look for:  lice do not have wings and cannot fly or jump, but do move quickly making it difficult to find in a child's hair.  Lice are transmitted by close contact.  A nit is a louse egg.  Nits vary in color and are found attached to the hair shaft with a waterproof cement-like substance that makes them difficult to remove.

Helpful hints for treatment with over-the-counter anti-lice cremes (eg, Nix):

Anti-lice Creme:
  • Follow directions on the box exactly
  • First, wash the hair with a regular shampoo and towel dry it before using the anti-lice creme
  • Pour full bottle of anti-lice cream (eg, Nix) into damp hair, people with long hair may need to use 2 bottles
  • Work the creme into all the hair down to the roots
  • If necessary, add a little warm water to work up a lather
  • Leave the shampoo on for a full 10 minutes (or exactly as directions instruct) or it won't kill all the lice.  Then rinse the hair thoroughly
  • Repeat the anti-lice creme in 1 week to kill any nits that survived (or exactly as directions instruct)

Remove the Nits

Hair-washing precautions to help the anti-lice creme work:

  • Don't wash the hair with regular shampoo until 2 days after lice treatment
  • Avoid hair conditioners before treatment and for 2 weeks afterwards (Reason: coats the hair and interferes with Nix)
Return to School:
  • Your child can return to school after 1 treatment with the anti-lice creme.

If treatment fails after following directions exactly on anti-lice cream, follow up with your physician.  


Lori Ashton, RN
Meridian Elementary
Health Office
(480) 497-4032 x 2
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