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Head lice: Tips for managing

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

Two happy sisters smiling and hugging outside

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.