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Childhood Skin Problems

Head lice infestation

Head Lice

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Head lice are usually found in hair, most often on the back of the neck and behind the ears. Head lice are common in preschool and elementary school-age children. Adults can get them too, especially adults who live with school-aged children.

The most common treatment is an over-the-counter or prescription cream, lotion, or shampoo. You apply it to the skin or scalp to kill the lice and eggs. In some cases, you may need treatment a second time to make sure that all the eggs are dead. Some medicines don't kill the eggs. Be sure to follow all instructions exactly. If two or more treatments don't work, your doctor may prescribe a pill called ivermectin.

Some people have an allergic reaction to lice bites that causes itching for 7 to 10 days after the lice and eggs have been killed. Steroid creams or calamine lotion can relieve the itching. If you have severe itching, antihistamine pills may help. But don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first. Read more about the symptoms, treatments, and prevention of head lice.

Reviewed on February 26, 2014

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