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How to Guard Against Lice This School Year

University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Lice are every parent's worst nightmare. Just reading this is probably making you itch to check your child's head for the creatures.

Though insecticidal louse shampoos or cream rinse products are available over-the-counter, many parents want to take the pro-active stance and make sure an infestation doesn't occur.

But how can you stop lice from invading?

In Nebraska, health officials are urging parents to start checking their young children for head lice on a weekly basis, now that school has started.

State medical entomologist, Dr. Annette Bredthauer, says head lice are common among elementary school students because young pupils have a lot of physical contact with their classmates.

An estimated six million to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in the United States in children ages 3 to 11, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lice are reddish-brown wingless insects. Their eggs, or nits, are grayish-white, always oval-shaped and are attached at an angle to the side of the hair shaft.

So what can a parent do if lice are spotted?

On "The Early Show", Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician from New York University Langone Medical Center, said lice can be smothered.

One solution? Mayonnaise!

"The benefit of this," Rauch says, is that "it does work. The downside is it's not particularly appetizing and has to stay on the head for probably two, three, or four hours. This is tough to do if you have a little child at home, and that's where some of the other products are much more beneficial -- something like Lice M.D., which has to be applied for 10 minutes, and then you can start combing effectively.

"Then, some people believe in just conditioning the hair, very vigorously and effectively under hot water and then again, what's most important or equally as important as the product you use is -- combing effectively."

Olive oil left on for at least two hours can also do the trick, Rauch said.

He added that the perceived resistance may simply be a matter of treatments not being applied properly -- not leaving them on long enough, or combing thoroughly enough.

For more information on lice, go to WebMD's lice information page here.

Have you had issues with lice and your child? How did you get the lice out? Let us know if you have any helpful tips or tricks to make these pests disappear!