How many parents have received this dreaded letter or email, "Your child has head lice …" The mere thought of the creepy crawlers on your child's head can get you shivers, but lice are an age old problem and they can get in make a camp for every hair.
September is National Head Lice Prevention Month, presided over by the National Pediculosis Association. Pediculosis is the medical name for head lice. This year's message is "CombFirst!" The organization believes the comb is more powerful than the medicated shampoo to help reduce spread.
It is not possible to get an exact number of people who will get lice, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 6 million and 12 million children ages 3-11 catch them. Black children are less likely to have lice.
There are several myths surrounding lice. Here are a few:
Lice can jump from person to person.
Lice cannot jump or fly. They are transmitted from head to head by crawling when there is close head-to-head contact or when holding on to an object that is being shared, such as a chair B. a comb or a hat. For this reason, children should be discouraged from sharing these personal items.
Lice spread infections or diseases.
Aside from itching and the creeping factor, lice are harmless. They do not carry or spread diseases.
Lice are a sign of poor hygiene.
Lice want to get to the blood they can access on the scalp. They don't care if your hair is dirty or clean.
The only way to get rid of lice is with a medicated shampoo.
For decades, parents have relied on medicated shampoos to remove lice from their children's hair. However, head lice are starting to become immune to some of the shampoos, making them harder to get rid of. Also, some people cannot tolerate having these products on their heads so other options are required. Although time consuming, wet combing works with a comb. Moisten the hair with conditioner or oil and slowly move the comb along the hair section by section. You may need to do this a few days in a row to make sure you got all of the nits.
Lice hide in upholstered furniture and carpets.
Lice can live on a human head for a maximum of 1 or 2 days.
If you or your child have lice
So what do you do when you get that dreaded letter from school or notice the lice yourself? After scratching your head – a natural reaction – take a deep breath and know you have this.
Decide on the treatment you want to use, either the medicated shampoo or the combing. When using a medical product, be sure to follow the instructions. This is no time for "If some are good, more is better" There are also hairdressers and others who specialize in caring for lice if you want to transfer the job to someone else.
Check after treatment as some people may need 2 or more treatments to successfully get rid of all lice.
Wash items that have come into contact with the person 2 days prior to treatment. These items include hats, scarves, headbands, towels, linens, and pillow cases. Hot water and the heat of a dryer will kill both the lice and the nits (eggs). Items that cannot be thrown into the laundry can be decontaminated by sealing them in a plastic bag for 2 weeks. Combs and brushes can be soaked in hot water (at least 130 degrees) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Visit Headlice.org to learn more about lice and how to prevent and deal with an outbreak.