previously published in KC Parent magazine in the September 2011 issue
Whether you have them, are treating them or just reading this article, I bet your head starts itching and your face contorts into unphotographic poses by the end.
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “Head lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene, and are not responsible for the spread of any disease,” the public still dreads talking about it.
“No healthy child should be excluded from or miss school because of head lice,” says the AAP and advocates that “no-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned. Your child can return to childcare or school after one treatment with anti-lice shampoo.”
As always, check with your medical provider first for advice. Over-the-counter treatments are effective, but it’s mandatory you follow directions explicitly. Also, do NOT over treat. Studies show if some treatments are overused, pests can develop resistance to some of the medications.
Leslie, an Overland Park mom, said she recently had lice in her home. She was brushing her daughter’s hair and saw a louse “moving really fast. I put it on a piece of tape and took it to a practitioner who agreed to start treatment.” Leslie suspected her daughter might have picked it up from sharing t-ball helmets, so she notified the team.
Then she used one of the common lice elimination systems containing shampoo, comb-out gel and the home control spray. Luckily, says Leslie, “It was only a mild case and no one else got it.”
- Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot water (130° F), then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
- Have bed linens, clothing and stuffed animals and plush toys that can’t be washed put in airtight bags for two weeks.
- Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (home/car).
- The nits (eggs) hatch into lice in one week.
- Off the scalp, nits can’t survive more than two weeks.
- Adult lice survive three weeks on the scalp or 24 hours off scalp.
- A louse is the size of a sesame seed.
- Live lice can transmit lice to another child.
- Transmission is from direct head-to-head contact. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s hair.
- Transmission of lice occurs at home, not school or other public places. Sleepovers and bed-sharing are major sources.
(AAP, July 2010)
Stacey Hatton is a pediatric RN and freelance writer.