Good Day Utah


Dr. Cynthia Gellner on head lice

Posted at 2:51 PM, Sep 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-10 16:51:13-04

Dan and Tamara talked to Dr. Cynthia Gellner, M.D., a pediatrician at University of Utah Health Care’s Westridge Health Center in West Valley City, about childhood head lice.

Childhood Head Lice

With kids heading back to the classroom this fall it’s important to remember that some heads have hitchhikers. Head lice are tiny insects that live on the skin covering the top of your head. Lice can be spread by close contact with other people. Head lice can also be found in eyebrows and eyelashes. Here are some facts about head lice:

· Head lice can live up to 30 days on a human. Their eggs can live for more than 2 weeks.
· Head lice spread easily, particularly among school children.
· They are more common in close, overcrowded living conditions.
· Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status.

You Can Get Head Lice If You:

· Come in close contact with a person who has lice.
· Touch the clothing or bedding of someone who has lice.
· Share hats, towels, brushes, or combs of someone how has had lice.


· Intense itching of the scalp
· Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders (bumps may become crusty and ooze).
· Tiny white specks (eggs or nits) on the bottom of each hair that are hard to get off.
· A tickling feeling or a sensation of something moving in a child’s head.
· Irritability and sleeplessness.

How to Prevent Head Lice

· Never share hair brushes, combs, hair pieces, hats, bedding, towels, or clothing with someone who has head lice.
· Avoid head-to-head contact during play and other activities at home or school.

What To Do If Your Child Gets Lice

· Use medicated shampoos containing 1% permethrin (nix). They can be bought at the store without prescription.
· You can remove the eggs with a nit comb. Do this for 7-10 days.
· Treat children and adults with lice promptly and thoroughly.
· Wash all clothes and bed linens in hot water with detergent.
· Make sure to contact your child’s school, daycare or preschool. Many do not allow infected children to be at school until lice has been completely treated.