Donate For AAD Members Search

American Academy of Dermatology Logo

Head lice: Tips for managing

Most children get head lice through head-to-head contact.

Head lice are common, and it is easy for children to pick up head lice at school and other places where they play. Here are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of your child getting head lice:

  1. Teach your child to stop sharing things that touch the head. Brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, helmets, scarves, towels, and even earbuds offer head lice a good place to hang out until they can crawl onto a human.

  2. When someone has head lice, tell your child not to touch couches, chairs, pillows, rugs, and beds that a person who has head lice uses.

If your child’s school reports a head lice infestation, there are a few things you can do to catch head lice early:

  • Check your child’s hair

  • Inspect household items that can get infested with lice and nits — towels, rugs, and bedding.

  • Look carefully at the clothes your child has worn during the past two days for lice and their eggs.

  • Reinforce the message to stop sharing anything that touches the head.

  • Tell your child to stop head-to-head contact with other kids until the school is free of lice.

More resources

  • Head lice
    Information from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • Treating head lice
    Consumer health information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which includes FDA-approved treatments for head lice.

Getty Images

Frankowski BL, Bocchini JA. “Head Lice.” Pediatrics 2010; 126(2):392-403.

Ko CJ, Elston DM. “Pediculosis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50(1):1-12

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Treating Head Lice.” FDA Consumer Health Information. July 2009.1-2.

Find a dermatologist by location
Advanced search
Find a dermatologist by name
Advanced search