Health officials talk treatment for and prevention of head lice

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) — "It's just this itchy, miserable, crawling all over feeling. It's horrible," said Sarah Sypolt, whose kids had lice and who's had lice herself.

According to the CDC, around 6-12 million infestations occur each year among children ages 3-11.

These are the signs that you might have head lice. They're something often heard about in schools and in daycare, but they can happen at just about any time.

"The most common spread is direct contact. Head-to-head, hair-to-hair. Indirectly as well, by using the same combs, caps and scarves etc.," said Lloyd White, with the Marion County Health Department.

According to the CDC, around 6-12 million infestations occur each year among children ages 3-11.

"It's typically in younger kids, because they have a tendency to share more things," said White.

Sarah Sypolt has experienced this first hand with both her children and herself. Three of her kids got lice at the same time.

"We have five kids in total, and three of them came home with lice from the schools last year," said Sypolt.

Lice feed on human blood and lay eggs in hair called nits. But even when it seems like they're gone, they can come back.

"Once we saw no nits, no bugs, we sent them back to school. Within a week, they were back. I would guess they picked them up at school again," said Sypolt.

Officials say they recommend talking to your healthcare provider if you get lice. Treatments, such as shampoos or lotions, can be extremely effective.

"Typically, the treatment is going to be effective after 8-12 hours for the most part. You'll start to see them die off. After that, the chances of transmitting lice to other individuals is going to be decreased," said White.

"We treated clothing, furniture, the vehicle and once it spread to me, we went to the doctor," said Sypolt.

Once treatment starts, health officials say to use a nit comb to remove any lice and nits left behind.

Sypolt says she checks her kids almost every day and uses preventative measures.

"Tea tree oil, they told me green apple shampoo and conditioner. They'll do anything to avoid it. Lots of hairspray, that's also a deterrent."

Sypolt says it took over a month of treatment before they were rid of them and that the best thing to do is to avoid the avoidable.

"Please do not put other kids' hairbands in your hair, do not wear other kids' hats and try not to lean on people's shoulders."

Local health departments say lice is not a public health hazard, but that places should be alerted where you or your child may have contracted lice.

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