When you suspect your child has head lice, you may have a lot on your mind: You worry about the lice harming your child, how you can keep the rest of your family safe \u2014 and how you can keep your bedding and household items free of infestation.\nTreating head lice requires several specific steps that any parent can manage. It is important for you and your child to remember that head lice, while uncomfortable, are not a result of poor hygiene. It is a problem that easily can be treated.\nExpert dermatology care in Pennsylvania. Learn more about UPMC eDermatology.\nHow to Treat Head Lice\n\n\n \n\nStep 1: Don’t panic.\nLice are tiny insects that live on human hairs and feed on tiny amounts of blood. Thankfully, they don\u2019t spread disease, so they’re not a danger to your child. Their bites, however, can make the scalp itchy. Encourage your child not to scratch, as that can lead to infection.\nStep 2: Check your child\u2019s scalp for lice or lice eggs. Then check everyone else in your home.\n“Nits,\u201d or lice eggs, are small yellow, tan, or brown dots that can\u2019t be brushed or shaken away. A hatched egg looks white or clear, and adult lice are gray or tan and about the size of a sesame seed. Use a magnifying glass and\/or a bright light to check for these signs.\nLice can only move by crawling, so they spread only through head-to-head contact or through contact with contaminated bedding, clothing, hair brushes, or combs. Check the rest of the family to see if anyone else is infected, and treat everyone at the same time.\nStep 3: Buy over-the-counter lice medicines, called pediculicides.\nThis is the first treatment step if your child has lice. Apply the medicine, which often comes in the form of shampoo, following the instructions on the package. Use a lice comb to thoroughly check your child\u2019s hair for lice and nits and remove them. It\u2019s important to be meticulous, as lice and nits firmly attached to the hair close to the scalp.\nThe cycle of lice hatching and laying eggs is repeated every two to three days, so it is important to use a lice comb to check your child’s scalp and neck and remove lice every few days. You may need to apply another dose of medicine after a week, based on the package instructions.\nIf lice or nits persist in your child’s hair for more than 10 days, contact your doctor to talk about other treatment options.\nStep 4: Wash items that may be contaminated with lice.\nHot temperatures kill lice and nits. Wash sheets, towels, accessories, and pillowcases in hot water and dry them with hot air.\nItems that can’t be washed can be sealed in a plastic bag to suffocate and kill any lice. Dry cleaning and vacuuming can help to remove lice and nits from items that can’t be laundered.\nStep 5: Learn about the lice policy at your child’s school.\nSchool policies on lice vary, so ask your child’s school nurse or the childcare center director when your child can return to normal activities.