Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
Did you know that it’s common for kids between 3 and 11 years of age to get head lice, regardless of how clean they are? In today’s article, we’ll discuss some of the things you can do when your child comes home with head lice.
Let’s talk about head lice
Head lice are each about the size of a sesame seed and spread through direct head-to-head contact. If your child had head lice, they would likely complain about an itchy scalp and may experience a tickling sensation of something moving on their head. However, not everyone who has head lice is symptomatic. If this is their first time contracting head lice, it could take them 4-6 weeks before they develop any symptoms, as it takes time to develop sensitivity to louse saliva.
The best way to determine if your child has head lice is to examine their head to see if there are nits (eggs) or adult lice at the end of the hair shafts, at the base of neck, or behind their ears at the hairline.
So, you saw some nits and adult lice
If this is the case, you can speak to your healthcare provider or your local pharmacist to find the best treatment option. Here are some examples of lice treatments available in Canada:
#1 Dimethicone 50% (NYDA®)
Commonly known as NYDA®, dimethicone has a physical mechanism of action, and works by literally suffocating the lice. It’s recommended that you apply the solution over dry hair, and massage it in until the hair is completely wet from the solution. Leave it on for 30 minutes before you comb hair with a lice comb. Then, allow the soluton to dry for at least 8 hours before you wash the hair. Unfortunately, NYDA® is not recommended for infants or children younger than 2 years of age.
#2 Isopropyl myristate 50% + Cyclomethicone 50% (Resultz®)
Resultz® contains two medications and works by disrupting the wax layer of the lice, thereby leading to death via dehydration. Just like NYDA®, apply the product onto dry hair and scalp, but leave it on for about 10 minutes before washing off. Similar to NYDA®, it’s not recommended for use in infants or children younger than 2 years of age.
#3 Permethrin 1% (Nix® Creme Rinse, Kwellada-P® Creme Rinse)
Unlike other medications that act physically, these products work as a neurotoxic agent to lice. It’s important to wash your hair with conditioner-free shampoo, rinse with water, and towel dry before you apply the product. Saturate the hair and scalp, and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing. While often recommended as the first-line treatment, avoid using these products if you have an allergy to chrysanthemum.
#4 Pyrethrins/piperonyl butoxide (R&C® Shampoo)
Unlike others that act physically, these ingredients work because they are neurotoxic to lice. Apply to dry hair, and massage into the scalp and hair. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, shampoo and rinse it off. Again, if you have chrysanthemum allergy, avoid using this product.
As a rule of thumb, repeat treatment in 7-10 days with all products to ensure all nits and lice have been eliminated. With Nix® Creme Rinse and Kwellada-P® Creme Rinse, you can repeat in 7-10 days, or repeat if you see still see live lice at this point.
Don’t just stop there
To prevent re-infection with lice, you should take some of the following measures:
#1 Remove lice and nits after treating with a medication
In recent years, lice have become increasingly resistant to some of these medications. So, it’s important to remove lice and nits with a comb after treatment, despite how time-consuming it may be. Wet combing alone may not be enough to remove lice and nits.
#2 Treat the room
Make sure to wash all pillowcases, sheets, clothes, towels, and stuffed animals on the hot water cycle to kill all lice and nits. If the item cannot be washed, seal it in a plastic bag for 2 weeks. Once you’ve cleared out the room, make sure to vacuum it, as lice can survive up to 48 hours when separated from a person (eg. on household surfaces).
#3 Disinfect combs and brushes
Soak combs and brushes in a disinfectant solution or hot water. If you were to use rubbing alcohol, soak them for 10-20 minutes. If you were to soak in hot water, use at least 50°C hot water for 5-10 minutes.
As always, we hope you took away something valuable from this piece. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article or others, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback. We’d love to hear from you.
- DynaMed Plus