Scabies and Lice Both scabies and lice are small insect like parasites that live on human blood. Both are passed through close contact or by sharing personal items and are treated with over the counter medication. These medications are available by prescription from your doctor. We also have limited amounts of these medications at the health office.
How is scabies treated?
Scabies will not go away without treatment.See your doctor before treating scabies. There are a number of lotions or creams that you can buy from pharmacies. It is important to read the label carefully and follow directions exactly. Some treatments may not be suitable for children, or pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Because adults do not normally get scabies above the neck, you should not have to apply the lotion to your face and scalp. However, your doctor may recommend applying the lotion to the head and scalp of children. Itchiness will continue for 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. This is common and will get better. Do not repeat the treatment unless advised by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a second treatment 1 week after the first treatment. Crusted (Norwegian) scabies is very contagious and can be difficult to treat. Medicine used to treat regular scabies may not work. For more information, speak with your doctor.
What about cleaning house?
Put on clean clothes and bedding after the treatment. Bedding and clothes worn next to the skin 3 days before treatment should be cleaned appropriately. They should be washed with detergent in hot water and dried on the hot cycle. Any clothing that cannot be laundered should be stored for several days to 1 week before reuse. You do not have to wash items such as mattresses and furniture. It is a good idea to give your house a thorough vacuuming, including soft or upholstered furniture.
If 1 person in your family or household has scabies, there is a good chance that others will have it too. They may not have symptoms yet. For this reason, all household members should be treated at the same time. Children may return to school or day care after they have been treated.
What are safe options for treating head lice?
Treatment should be considered only if head lice or live nits are found. Head lice will not go away without treatment. Check the heads of every member of the household and only treat those who have lice or nits. Treating everyone at the same time will help to make sure head lice are properly treated and help to prevent them from continuing to spread.
There are many different products and ways to treat head lice. If one treatment does not work to get rid of head lice, then try a different treatment. Parents, students and teachers are advised to work closely with local health care providers on treatment options. There could be resistance or a heavy infestation if live, active lice are seen 24 to 48 hours after the first treatment. If this is the case, immediate treatment is recommended using a different product, followed by a second treatment 7 days later.
Chemical treatments Non-prescription medications – Shampoos, creams and rinses that contain an ingredient that kills lice are available at most pharmacies without a prescription. Some examples are Permethrin, Pyrethrins, and Isopropyl Myristate, also known as Resultz. These medications may not be appropriate for children or adults of all ages, so speak to your health care provider or pharmacist to find out which is best for you or your child. Always carefully follow the directions for use on the label.
After treatment, the hair should be checked and nits or lice should be removed. Most treatments are repeated in 7 to 10 days to make sure that any head lice that have hatched after the first treatment are killed before they have a chance to lay any eggs. It is also important to check the head for any nits and remove them after the second treatment. Itching may last for 7 to 10 days, even after successful treatment. The medications should be kept out of the reach of young children. Some medications can not be used for infants, young children, pregnant or nursing mothers and should only be used following advice from a health care provider.
Non-Chemical treatments Wet-combing – this method removes live head lice and nits. Wet-combing is less expensive but takes more time to complete. The combing steps must be followed carefully and completely. Combing treatments are done using generous amounts of hair conditioner and a special lice comb, every 3 to 4 days for 2 weeks. Any young lice that hatch from eggs after the first session are removed at the second, third and fourth sessions. This is why it is important to do the full 4 sessions. Contact your public health unit for complete instructions on the wet-combing method.
Children should receive their first treatment, whether, chemical or non-chemical, at home the first day that they are found to have head lice. Children should not be sent home or kept home from school or daycare because of head lice. The child should be encouraged to avoid head-to-head or close contact with other students. Speak to the school nurse or daycare operator about any guidelines they may have about head lice. Schools and daycare centres may want to remind all parents to check their child regularly for head lice in order to manage the spread.
Confidentiality should be maintained in order not to embarrass a child or family who has head lice. If a child has head lice a second time, he or she likely has caught them from a person with untreated lice.
When should I call my health care provider?
Call your health care provider if the treatments using non-prescription medications are not successful. Treatment of pregnant or nursing mothers and of children less than 2 years of age should be given only under the direction of a health care provider.
What options are not recommended for treating head lice?
Methods and products that should not be used because they are either not safe or do not work include: insect sprays, motor oil, gasoline, alcohol, flea soap, dyes, bleaches, heat applied to the scalp, garlic, essential oils, and shaving the head.
What should be cleaned? Head lice do not survive for long once they are off the scalp. Head lice do not pose a risk to others through contact with furniture, pets or carpets. There is no evidence that a major cleaning of the house or car is necessary.
On the day you start the treatment, wash all dirty clothes including hair ribbons, hats and scarves, bedding, towels, brushes and combs in hot water. Items that can not be washed, such as pillows or stuffed animals, can be placed in a plastic bag for 10 days or in the freezer for 48 hours. Vacuum child car seats as a precaution.