Often, you can get rid of lice with over-the-counter treatments and by properly washing contaminated household items, such as sheets, towels and clothes. If these measures don't work, see your primary care medical provider.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including when you might have been exposed to lice, whom you might have exposed, and what household items might be contaminated.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- How do I treat lice?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- How do I rid my household items of lice?
- Who do I need to inform about my condition?
- What other measures do I need to take to avoid re-infesting myself or others?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- Are there 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 when you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How were you exposed to lice?
- Is there anyone you might have exposed to lice?
- How severe are your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
If you think or know you have lice, avoid sharing personal items, bedding, towels or clothing. Bathe and follow self-care measures, including washing contaminated items in hot water.
If you think or know you have a pubic lice infestation, also avoid sexual activity until you've been treated.
May. 22, 2012
- Head lice: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Body lice: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/body/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Pubic "crab" lice: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/pubic/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Priciples and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..00293-9. Accessed Jan. 20, 2010.
- Goldstein AO, et al. Pediculosis capitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 16, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2898131. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Burkhart CN, et al. Fomite transmission in head lice. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2007;56:1044.
- Head lice: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/treatment.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Body lice: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/body/treatment.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Pubic "crab" lice: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/pubic/treatment.html. Accessed Feb. 14, 2012.
- Mumcuoglu KY, et al. Repellency of citronella for head lice: Double-blind randomized trial of efficacy and safety. Israel Medical Association Journal. 2004;6:756.
- Semmler M, et al. Repellency against head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis). Parasitology Research. 2010;106:729.
- Frankowski BL, et al. Head lice. Pediatrics. 2010;126:392.
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