Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
In most cases, you don't need to see a doctor for head lice. But you may want to consult your family physician if:
- You need help determining if you or your child has been infected
- Over-the-counter lice treatments aren't working
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of the symptoms
- Information about past medical problems
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
For head lice, questions you may want to ask your doctor include:
- How do you treat head lice?
- Is there an over-the-counter or generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- How do I rid household items of head lice?
- Who do I need to inform about my or my child's condition?
- What other measures do I need to take to avoid re-infestation?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Should I plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will check your head for lice and your hair for nits. He or she may use a special light, called a Wood's light, which makes the nits look pale blue.
Your doctor also may ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you or your child first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How were you or your child exposed to head lice?
- Is there anyone you might have exposed to head lice?
- How severe are your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
If you or your child has head lice, avoid sharing personal items, bedding, towels or clothing. Use an over-the-counter treatment for head lice or try a wet-combing technique for your hair or your child's hair to physically remove lice and nits. Rid personal items, such as clothing or bedding, by washing them in very hot water or sealing them in plastic bags for several days.
- Goldstein AO, et al. Pediculosis capitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Head lice: Frequently asked questions (FAQs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Head lice: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/treatment.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Bedell DA, et al. Parasitology. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-1-4160-2467-5&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2467-5..50029-4. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Schlossberg D. Arthropods and leeches. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/128370895-5/822078666/1492/1286.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2805-5..50385-2--cesec27_16133. Accessed April 26, 2011.
- Burkhart CN, et al. Fomite transmission in head lice. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2007;56:1044.
- Treating head lice. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM173526.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2011.
- Head lice: Prevention and control. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/prevent.html. Accessed April 26, 2011.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report — Head lice. Pediatrics. 2010;126:392.