Back to school: The facts of lice


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Just thinking about head lice makes you itch, doesn’t it?

As parents, however, lice are something we have to look out for as our kids go back to class. Debra Murray, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Sentara Pediatric Physicians, told 10 Your Side her office encounters a record number of cases when the school year starts and children are in close contact.


Lice are spread from head to head. They don’t fly, jump or hop — they only crawl. So, kids have to be in very close proximity to get lice. For example, group selfies are causing an uptick in lice cases. 

It is tough to know if a child has lice. Itching is the obvious symptom, but not everyone reacts the same way; Some children don’t itch at all.

Julie Burbank, owner of Pros Against Lice Service (PALS), says most parents go unaware for about three weeks. Often, a note will come home from school reporting a classmate has been treated for lice — leaving moms and dads dreading the thought of dealing with the creepy little bugs.

Many times, over the counter products don’t work because the lice have become resistant to them. They also require nit removal, which is time consuming and aggravating.

There are other, easier options to treating lice.

Pediatricians can prescribe a lotion that gets rid of them or professional services that can do all of the work for you. Burbank and her staff do it everyday. Nit and lice removal takes about an hour, the cost is around $100 and their work is guaranteed.

Mothers like Jill Caynor have spent hours combing through her kid’s hair, cleaning her home from top to bottom and working herself to exhaustion — only to learn she didn’t have to do any of that.

Simply washing the sheets of the infected person, putting things like hats in the dryer on high heat and brushes in the freezer are really all the pros at PALS recommend.

One big myth everyone 10 On Your Side spoke with for this story wanted to clear up was head lice only infest dirty people. That is completely untrue.

Anyone can get lice no matter how clean their hair, home, school or day care may be. People and children of all backgrounds and all walks of life get lice.

If your child does happen to get lice, don’t panic.

If you intend to use an over the counter product, carefully follow the instructions. You do have comb through your child’s hair with a nit comb to remove all of the eggs and recheck for at least a week to make sure they are gone.

Calling a professional is a second option.

All of the treatment is taken care of and usually only one treatment is necessary. Having your child visit his or her pediatrician works, too.

Often, a product called Sklice is prescribed and it gets rid of nits as well as lice. 

For additional information about lice, prevention and treatment, visit or

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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