Lice & Scabies

Resources for Lice & Scabies in Snohomish County

Although neither causes serious disease, lice and scabies are frustrating infestations that spread through close human contact and can therefore affect the community. The Snohomish Health District offers resources for the prevention and treatment of these infestations.

Treating Head Lice

Head lice can be a difficult and frustrating problem for anyone, but keep in mind that lice are common, do not carry disease, and are not a sign of poor hygiene or uncleanliness. Anyone who comes in contact with an infested individual or with contaminated items can get lice, although it is more common in preschool children and their families. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat lice infestations.

No child should be kept home from Kindergarten through 12th grade school due to head lice. Child cares may send children with lice home, depending on their individual policies. Lice are not a health hazard and are not easily spread in the classroom. Since prompt treatment is in the best interest of everyone, children should be treated for lice at home before returning to school the next day.

Symptoms & Treatment of Scabies

Anyone can get scabies, regardless of age, gender, or standards of personal hygiene. Scabies, a skin infestation caused by tiny mites that burrow under the skin, causes itching and sometimes results in a skin infection due to ongoing scratching. It spreads through prolonged direct skin contact or by sharing clothing, towels, or bedding and is common in crowded conditions, such as schools and child care facilities.

Symptoms do not appear for 2 to 6 weeks after the first infestation but could appear within days if previously infested. Treatment for scabies is a prescription cream or lotion containing an insecticide.

If you suspect you or your child has scabies, contact your health care provider immediately. Your child may return to school or child care after medical treatment has been completed.

Reducing the Spread of Scabies

  • Clean all bedding and clothing worn next to the skin during the 3 days before treatment in hot water
  • See a doctor as soon as possible after symptoms present
  • Store clothing, stuffed animals, pillows, and any other items that cannot be washed in a tightly sealed plastic bag for 4 days