Cases of head lice on the rise nationwide

Published: Mar. 12, 2019 at 11:03 AM EDT
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(03/12/19) - An uptick in cases of head lice across the United States this winter. That's according to the Lice Clinic Centers of America, which has more than 300 clinics nationwide.

"Basically a parasite, a living thing that lives on another living thing to survive," said Dr. Uzma Khan, a family physician with McLaren Flint.

The most common symptom is itching of the scalp.

Head lice is a condition that is highly contagious, only if there is human to human contact.

"There's a conception or anxiety among parents that if a child is sitting next to a child that has it, the child is going to get it, that's not how it works," she said.

How it does work?

"A child had put his head on a pillow or had a scarf on, had a hat on, that was actually used or was in physical contact with another child's head, that's how it transfers."

But if the lice is physically off the head for 24-48 hours, it will die.

Doctor Khan tells says too that only lice can crawl, they cannot fly or jump or hop like many might think.

So how do you treat head lice?

"There are usually shampoos available that you can actually apply on the hair."

Dr. Khan says to follow those instructions carefully and if there are still signs of lice in the hair, re apply the shampoo, but not right away.

"Hatching of the eggs is about 9-12 days, so you'll want to wait until at least a week, 7-9 days before you re-apply."

And if that doesn't do the trick, that's when she says to go see your family doctor.

To view the full news release from Lice Clinics of America, click on the 'related links' section on the right side or bottom of this page.