Lice in Your Life
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.
Lice in Your Life
Most parents live in fear if getting the dreaded nurse’s call your child has head lice. Your first reaction may be outrage,or panic. While both of these reactions may be understandable, neither one will help your family deal with the problem at hand- the little critters that have invaded your life.
Head lice are a common childhood malady that can affect not only children, but adults, as well. A small parasite that lives in the hair, head lice are particularly easy to transmit from person to person, especially in areas where there is close contact between people or clothing. Contrary to popular myth, head lice do not only infect “dirty heads”; rather, they prefer nice clean scalps where they can live and lay their eggs, or nits.
When the diagnosis comes in, it is important to speak with the nurse or doctor about the best treatment methods for your child and family. There are many traditional remedies that have been passed down over time, but be aware that some of these are not safe to use or are ineffective. The best advice is to ask a medical professional on what steps you should take.
Whatever method you choose, it is important to treat not only your child, but the environment your child lives in. The lice can be transferred to others through contact with infected clothing, furniture, stuffed animals, or hygiene products, like hairbrushes.
It is important to treat all potentially infected areas, including living areas, bedrooms, and vehicles in order to halt the spread of the infestation. Follow the treatment direction carefully on your product or from your medical provider.
In addition to killing the living lice, it is essential to remove the eggs from the environment as well. This is especially important when removing eggs from your child’s hair. It is a tedious and difficult task to remove every egg from each hair shaft, as they are attached and need to be physically removed by hand. However, if you completely remove all of the lice and the eggs, the chances for a recurrence are significantly lowered.
Please remember that having someone in your family contract head lice is not any reflection on your family’s cleanliness habits. Rather, it is a common problem that strikes more and more families each year. By following some basic removal steps, you and your family will be louse-free very soon.
Here are some basic prevention steps that can help your child stay away from head lice, even in close contact areas:
1.) Do not allow your child to share hats, barrettes, or other personal items with other children, including batting helmets or other sports equipment. Lice easily hide in these items and can be passed along.
2.) In the winter, try to leave space between jackets when hanging them on a wall. Lice can be transferred between clothing as it is stored. Winter can be a particularly likely time for lice infestations to occur, as there are many potential sources of transfer, including hats, hoods, earmuffs, and other clothing.
3.) Have your child bring their own sleeping bag and pillow when sleeping at a friend’s house. Avoid potential transfer by using your own supplies.
4.) If you or someone you have contact with does develop a lice problem, please notify others who may have been in contact with your child. Although this can be a very difficult phone call to make, it is important that you let others know before they also spread the problem along.
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
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