The information provided is for those in our community with school-aged children, or those attending child care, what to do, and why you should get to know the facts about head lice. See your Walsh’s pharmacist to learn more about treatment options.
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One of the concerns, and often to the embarrassment, of many parents at this time of year is that their child will come in contact with head lice, which can be highly contagious and spread quickly. Lice are tiny, wingless parasitic insects that live among human hair, and feed on small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. Although there might be a “Yuck Factor”, head lice are a very common problem, especially for kids aged 3-12 years (girls more often than boys).
Contrary to what some think, it’s not true that cleanliness, skipped baths/showers, or any other personal hygiene issue is a cause. Children who live in close quarters may have more of a problem, as are those who come in direct contact with one another. In school, that close contact could be direct, like head-to-head, or sharing personal accessories like hats/scarves, combs/brushes- even headphones.
What do head lice look like? There are 3 stages: egg (or nit); nymph and adult. Nits are whitish-grey, tan or yellow ovals about the size of a grain of sand. They stick to the hair close to the scalp, and can look like dandruff. Nymphs are baby lice, and look like adults, only smaller. Adults are about the size of a sesame seed, and can live for up to 30 days on the scalp.
How do you know your child has head lice? Well, very simply, the “Itch Factor”. The first sign of head lice is an itchy scalp, but it is possible to not have any symptoms. However, if you think your child may have head lice, check for nits, then again after 1 week, and again after 2.
To confirm a case of head lice, you need to find live lice; usually children will have no more than 20-30. Head lice move very fast and are hard to see, but are found close to the scalp, the bottom of the neck, or behind the ears.
So what about treatment? Home remedies hardly ever work, and disinfecting your home is totally unnecessary. There a several treatments approved in Canada to treat head lice. If your child has head lice, be sure to deal with it immediately. Check with your family doctor or your Walsh’s pharmacist to determine the best treatment remedy.