Lice and Other School Aged Problems

Nurse examining head of your girl for lice


“Head lice cause no medical harm but lice causes an enormous amount of anxiety among parents and teachers at schools,” says Dr. Michael Cater. The louse is a small, parasitic animal that lives on the scalp and sucks on small amounts of blood from the host. A louse is about the size of a sesame seed and can cause intense itching. Lice are spread almost exclusively from head-to-head contact and lice infestations are common in schools worldwide, not just those in poor communities.


Call your pediatrician if your child is has a very itchy scalp that won’t go away, says Dr. Cater. The doctor will examine the scalp and look for a living louse, eggs on the hair shaft, or a nit, which is an empty egg casing. Daily hair brushings can reduce the number of living lice. A safe over-the-counter cream rinse called Nix is typically the recommended initial treatment, says Dr. Cater. “It’s very effective. It’s applied to damp hair that is first shampooed with a non-conditioning shampoo. You towel dry the hair and then apply it for 10 minutes and rinse it off. It kills the louse and the eggs.” The treatment is repeated in 7 to 10 days. Parents should also wash the child’s bed linens twice in hot water and wash all combs and brushes.


6-12 million
Estimated number of lice infestations that occur each year in the U.S. among children ages 3-11

4-6 weeks
Time it can take for itching to appear the first time a person gets head lice

30 days
Amount of time a louse can live on a human head

Meet Dr. Michael Cater, Pediatrician

Dr. Cater completed his internship and residency training at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Cater is affiliated with the Orange County Medical Association, the California Medical Association and the American Board of Pediatrics. He is also on the Continuing Medical Education Committee of the local chapter (Chapter 4) of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Cater’s philosophy of care: “For me, medicine is a calling. Being a pediatrician allows me to participate in the lives of children by nurturing their physical health as well as their psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Guiding children along their path of life is my ultimate goal.”

Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda


Dr. Michael Cater

Parents Can Help Kids Achieve in School

Did you know that there’s an actual medical diagnosis for “academic underachievement?”

Dr. Michael W. Cater, a CHOC pediatrician, has made this diagnosis occasionally for young patients who have high potential but just don’t do well in school.

Dr. Cater places a high priority on encouraging patients to succeed in school. He says that’s just as important as having a good physical report.

Teen girls writing on a white board

CHOC Psychologist Offers Tips to Handle Teens’ Bad Attitudes

A poor attitude is a hallmark of teenagers, a CHOC pediatric psychologist tells CHOC Radio.

Dr. Mery Taylor recently stopped by Seacrest Studios to talk about why teens often have bad attitudes, and what parents can do to mitigate the effects of a dour disposition. A teen’s bad attitude can be a product of self-absorption and egocentricity, Dr. Mery Taylor explains.

Teenagers are working to determine who they are and what they want to be. Thus, they are often uninterested in performing tasks and duties that will not directly benefit them.

Dr. Mery Taylor

Is Your Child Too Busy?

Boy doing his homework at a table

Some parents feel it’s more productive to keep their kids constantly occupied. They might also feel that their kids will miss out on key experiences if they aren’t doing what other kids are. But most parents usually just want what seems best for their kids. Even when intentions are good, though, kids can easily become overscheduled.

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

One of the best ways to protect your children from bullying is to talk to them with open-ended questions and help them come up with an appropriate response. Learn more in this Health Feature.

The Truth About Vaccines
Some parents do not vaccinate their children, believing myths that vaccines are dangerous or cause disorders like autism. Learn what the experts say in this health feature.

When Your Baby Needs Surgery
In this health feature, Dr. Mustafa Kabeer, a CHOC pediatric surgeon, offers advice to parents for preparing their infant for surgery.

Subscribe to KidsHealth