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2013-11-28

Vigilance is best defense against head lice

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

An outbreak of head lice infestation, or pediculosis, is common when crowds of people, especially children, are in close contact. The odds are if children attend school, or camp, they will one day come home with little crawly things in their hair. It's important not to panic!
Your child will be one of six-12 million estimated infestations that occur each year in this country alone among children from three to 11 years old. The good news is that head lice are not known to spread disease and the infestation is curable.
Latest studies have indicated that washing bed linens and clothing in super hot water as practiced in the past to stop the spread of the infestation is really not necessary, since the little parasites die within hours of leaving their host.
Head lice infest the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Like little vampires, they feed on human blood several time a day and live close to the human scalp. They move by crawling. Head lice can not hop or fly to their next tasty victim.
Pediculosis is spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Spreading by contact with clothing (such as caps) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, headphones, helmets or towels) used by an infested person is uncommon. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice.
Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treatment of head lice infestations.
If your child reports a tickling feeling of something moving in his/her hair, is scratching or rubbing the head or eyes, or is having trouble sleeping (because head lice are most active at night), be sure to check for an infestation.
Active scratching may create sores on the head which may become infected.
Treatment for head lice is recommended for persons diagnosed with an active infestation. All household members and other close contacts should be checked and treated if an infestation is found.
The infested person should be promptly treated with an over-the-counter or prescription medication. Be sure to apply the medicine according to the instructions on the label.
A person with long hair may need more than one treatment. It should not be necessary to cut the hair.
Comb dead and any remaining live lice and nits (eggs) out of the hair using a fine-toothed nit comb that comes with the medication.
Continue to check for two - three weeks to be sure all lice and nits are gone.
No doubt your head is now itching after reading this article. Relax, it's just a mental aberration. You don't have head lice. But you might want to have someone check, just in case!