Doctor: Head lice common, not dangerous

Doctor: Head lice common, not dangerous
A customer gets her head lice removed at Mercer Island's newest salon.

They may be gross, but head lice are not dangerous and are actually very common among children 3 to 12 years old.
 
Dr. Emma Raizman a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's, said kids who end up with lice are not necessarily dirty children who don’t wash their hair.
 
"What really will spread lice is very close contact, so being head to head, sharing hair accessories that type of thing, but just being in a classroom with a child that has lice does not spread it," she said.
 
Raizman said if your child seems to be scratching their head a lot, you should check their scalp. If you spot something, try to determine if it's an active lice infection. A mild infection would consist of 1 or 2 lice, she said. But a severe infection could involve 100 to 200 of the critters.
 
In either case your child should not be held out of school for any length of time, Raizman said.
 
"If it's a mild infection, really the school nurse should call the parents, let them know, but they should stay in school. If it's a severe infection we may want to actually send them home, get them treated, but then they should come right back." 
 
Over-the-counter lice treatments are very effective, Raizman said. After it's applied, a lice comb is used to comb out the 'nits'. Once that's done, she recommends washing your child's bedding, hats, clothing and, anything else their head may have come into contact with.
 
"Anything that you can't wash you want to just put in a trash bag and let it sit for about two weeks because that's pretty much the life-cycle of the lice and so, if there are any eggs that will take care of it as well." 
 
Raizman said one treatment usually does the trick, but sometimes a second is needed seven to ten days after the first.