The Dreaded Lice

Dr. Lippitt says the most important thing about combating lice is staying calm. "People go crazy over lice, but it's a childhood problem. It doesn't mean anyone's dirty," she says. "It's more annoying than an actual medical problem."

If your child becomes infected with lice, Dr. Lippitt suggests combing through his hair to remove as many of nits as you can before using an over-the-counter treatment to kill the lice. Then, repeat the process for the next 10 to 13 days. "[The treatment] will kill the lice, not the nits or eggs," she says. "They're more easily killed once hatched."

She finds that what people forget about lice is that they have to have a human host. If the lice are left on a hair band, hat or even furniture and don't touch human hair for several hours, they die. You may want to try furniture sprays on tough-to-clean spots in your home, but in terms of fabrics, Dr. Lippitt says that hot water—a normal wash cycle of 140 degrees—and a hot dryer should do the trick. "All those ideas about smothering your things with mayonnaise and olive oil," she says, "They haven't really been proven affective."

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