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How To Spot And Treat Lice

Is there anything that can send a shiver down a parent's spine like the dreaded LICE LETTER? The minute that letter comes home from school or camp, or you hear through that parenting grapevine that a kid your kid plays with has lice, it's like someone has placed a ticking time bomb in your home. The truth is, most kids will get lice at least once in their lives. Think of it as a childhood rite of passage! There is absolutely nothing wrong with your child if they get lice, and it is in no way a reflection on your parenting or the cleanliness of your home. It's just ... one of those things, you know? Here's how to spot lice, and more importantly, how to treat it.

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Symptoms of lice

The most common symptom of lice is itching and scratching. If you notice your child it scratching their head more than usual, it's probably a good idea to do a quick lice check. Other symptoms include sores from itching, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and the appearance of lice eggs in the hair (they'll look like tiny white things in your kid's hair).

Checking for lice

If you got the lice letter, or suspect your kid might have lice, you have to do the parent thing and check them for the little buggers. It's easiest to check on wet hair, as it slows the lice down and makes them easier to spot. Wet your child's hair, then use a fine-tooth lice comb to part the hair. A bright flashlight helps to spot them on the scalp. Live lice bugs will look like brown sesame seeds; nits, or eggs, are white flecks that will appear cemented to the hair shaft.

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Credit: iStock / AndreyPopov

Treating lice

The good news is, you can totally treat lice at home. It can be a pain in the butt, but so much of parenting is, right? There are tons of over-the-counter shampoos and rinses you can use. Just make sure they contain pyrethrin or permethrin, which are ingredients that treat lice. Once you've washed your child's hair with the medicated shampoo, you'll need to sit down with that fine-toothed lice comb and methodically work your way through their hair. For kids with short hair, it's not too bad. Thick or long hair can be harder, but it's super important that you remove all the dead lice and nits, to prevent a re-infestation. Finally, make sure to wash their clothes, towels, and bedding before they use them again.

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