Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Head lice infestations are a common problem for school-age children, in fact, each year 6 to 12 million people get head lice. While boys may state that girls have cooties and girls may say that boys have cooties, the truth is, either can get them. Lice infestations can occur in any socioeconomic group and are not a sign of poor hygiene. They can not jump or fly and do not carry disease, but they are contagious, spreading mainly through contact with the head, hair, clothing, or other personal items, such as combs and brushes of a person infected with them. While they pose no real threat, they are still annoying to a person infected with them because they cause an itching sensation.
A female louse is about 1/8 of an inch and a male is about 1/10 of an inch long. They can lay up to 150 eggs at a time. The eggs, also known as nits, are shiny and white and glued to hair shafts. In 5 to 10 days, immature (nymphs) lice hatch. It takes about three weeks for lice to mature into adulthood. Lice cannot live for more than 48 hours away from their host (infected person) and they feed on very small amounts of blood.
The National Pediculosis Association (because the scientific name for a louse is Pediculus humanus capitis) suggests the following:
Watch for signs of head lice.
Check all family members.
Only treat those who are infested.
Manual removal of all nits is the best option whenever possible.
Consult your physician or pharmacist before applying insecticidal shampoos when the infested person is pregnant, nursing, asthmatic or has other medical conditions.
Wash bedding, recently worn clothing, combs and brushes in hot water.
Vacuum to remove lice or fallen hair with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals and car seats.
Notify your child’s school, camp, childcare provider, neighborhood parents and others who may be affected.
Honor the "No Nits Policy."
If your child has lice, treat him or her with over-the-counter or prescription lice-killing medicine. Treat only those in your family that have lice and remember that lice-killing products are pesticides. Follow all treatment instructions on the package carefully. Do not use a rinse or shampoo/conditioner combination before using the medicine and do not wash hair for 1-2 days after treatment. Check and remove nits and lice from hair every 2-3 days with the special comb that comes with the medication. Check all family members for 2-3 weeks to make sure that all of the lice and nits are gone. If the over-the-counter medication does not work, call your doctor for a different medication.
Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use lice-killing medications. Ask your child’s doctor before using lice-killing products on a child that has allergies, asthma, or any other medical condition. Do not use excessive amounts of lice-killing medicines and never use them on eyebrows or eyelashes.