Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that can infest the skin. They live on people’s heads and feed on their blood. Head lice can cause intense itching.
There are two other types of lice: body lice and pubic lice. This health sheet will focus on head lice.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Lice are treatable. Treatment will include applying a medicated cream rinse or shampoo to your child’s hair. Many head lice medicines are available over the counter. Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine if the OTC medicines did not work for your child.
Talk with your healthcare provider about which rinse or shampoo would be best for your child. Do not use two forms of treatment at the same time. If one treatment does not work, use a different treatment or call your healthcare provider for advice.
In addition to the medicated cream rinse or shampoo, treatment may also include:
Children can return to school or daycare the day after their first treatment for head lice.
You can help prevent head lice by:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: