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Toddler scalp problems: lice

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Hair treatment:

First, use an over-the-counter shampoo that’s specially formulated to kill lice. (Your doctor can recommend one.) Because medicated lice treatments are insecticides, follow the directions exactly, and do not use different head-lice treatments at the same time (unless instructed by your practitioner).

After you’ve shampooed her, put conditioner in her wet hair and go through it for any remaining eggs. Use a special fine-tooth nit comb (which usually comes with the shampoo) or your fingernails (use whatever works best for you), removing nits as you see them. Your daughter will need to stay still during this (usually) lengthy process, so keep a favorite book nearby (or do this in front of the TV).

Don’t wash her hair for a couple of days; this gives the shampoo’s medicated residue a chance to kill any remaining lice (in case any were left behind after the careful comb-out).

Lice can live up to two days without feeding on blood, so you should make sure your home is lice and nit-free as well. After the hair-washing, therefore, you’ll need to tackle the following:

Wash all linens and clothing that your daughter has come in contact with in hot water (over 130ºF). Dry them for at least 20 minutes on high heat.
Put any linens, stuffed animals, or clothing that can’t be washed or dry-cleaned in airtight bags for two weeks to make sure no nits (or lice) survive.

Vacuum carpets and furniture.
Soak combs, brushes, barrettes, and hair ties in medicated shampoo or rubbing alcohol for at least one hour.

Even after doing all this, don’t relax just yet: Keep checking for nits or lice every day for two weeks. If your daughter is still lice-free, then you are home free (but keep checking periodically for a couple more months just to make sure!).

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