School’s in session!

School is back in so inevitably it’s time to have “the talk”.  Ya know, the one we dread every year…the talk about LICE!  September is Lice Prevention Month but these days, with school starting in August, it’s best to have the conversation early!

Lice, tiny little wingless insects that make their home in human hair, spreads rapidly!  On the bright side, although creepy, they do not spread disease and are by most accounts not a danger to our health.  However, they are annoying and highly contagious.  They can cause itchiness, redness, and even slight inflammation.

What to Look For:

  • Nits.  Luckily, lice can be seen by thoroughly examining your child’s scalp.  Lice lay eggs (nits) that look like tiny dots that are yellow, tan, or brown in color.  They are laid on the scalp and can’t be removed by brushing or shaking the hair.  Nits take 1-2 weeks to hatch.
  • Adult lice.  Adult lice are a grayish color and about the size of a poppy seed.  It is more common to see nits than adult lice.
  • Scratching.  Scratching may not always occur right away.  A reaction is caused by the saliva of the lice after they bite which then can cause itching and scratching.
  • Rash or Redness.  A rash or redness can occur from irritation.  If excessive scratching occurs it can lead to a bacterial infection.

What to Do If You See Lice:

  • Alert your child’s school.  By letting your child’s school know they can inform other parents to check their children which will aid in stopping the spread of lice as quickly as possible.
  • Treat.  Use an over the counter shampoo, cream rinse, or lotion that is developed to kill lice.  Make sure to follow the directions.
  • Call your Doctor.  If OTC treatments aren’t working, contact your child’s doctor so they can recommend other options, even prescription medications.

Note: If your child is 2 years old or younger, contact your child’s Doctor before using any medicated lice treatments.

  • Remove by hand.  Another option is to remove the lice and nits by hand.  Using a fine-tooth comb, comb through your child’s wet, conditioned hair.  You should do this every day for 2 weeks after the last live lice is seen.
  • Wash and dry clothing.  Make sure to wash and dry clothing, sheets, hats,  and even backpacks that your child may have used while infected.  Use the hot cycle for washing and drying.
  • Replace combs/brushes.  Throw away any combs and brushes that may have been used while your child was infected with lice.  It is also recommended that you soak any hair accessories such as barrettes, hair ties, etc in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo.
  • Treat household.  Since lice is easily transferred to others make sure to inspect all family members.

Prevention:

  • Avoid sharing head items.  Examples: brushes, combs, hair accessories, helmets, hats, etc.
  • Check regularly.  Check head’s on a regular basis for nits and lice and treat at the first sign.

Additional Northwest Exterminating posts about lice:

http://www.callnorthwest.com/2011/09/school-has-started-so-has-lice/

http://www.callnorthwest.com/2011/09/september-is-head-lice-prevention-month/