What's Going Around?

Head Lice

We are currently seeing Head Lice.  Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.  Lice are very, very small insects. In fact, they are so tiny that you can barely see them.  Lice can't hurt you, but they can cause itching.  Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly.  Lice start out as nits/eggs.  Nits can be seen as little yellow blobs close to the scalp.  Lice can be over diagnosed.  Sometime lice can be mistaken for dandruff or psoriasis.

Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. Don't use hats that belong to other children.  Always use your own hair accessories.  Don't share sleeping bags.   Lice are not spread by animals, they only live on people.

There are many different types of treatments for Lice.  When you start treatment make sure you don't us a shampoo with conditioner.  First start with an over the counter medicine like Nix.  Nix is a medicine that kills live lice.  You should retreat in about 7 days to kill any new lice that have hatched. You can remove nits with the comb that comes with the package. 

One of the big reasons that medicine doesn't seem to work is that children get reinfected.  There are many ways to prevent this. Wash all clothes/hats/towels and other items, that have come directly in contact with you hair, in hot water and hot drying cycle.  Put combs in hot water for 10-15 minutes.  Place items that you can't wash in plastic bags for 2 weeks.  Vacuum rugs and furniture.    DO NOT use sprays they can be dangerous. You do not have to treat you pets, they do not carry lice.

Lice can be resistant to medications.  If the above treatments don't work, contact your doctor and he/she may prescribe a different medication.  Not all medications are covered by your insurance, so you may want to check before calling.

Head lice and school.  Head lice are not dangerous and are only spread by close contact.  Students with lice don't need to be sent home from school.  They can go home at the end of the day and be treated.  But your school might call you to pick them up.  The American Academia of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses do not recommend "no nit policies", for the following reasons.  Nits are very close to the scalp and are very unlikely to hatch.  Nits can be "cemented" to the hair, so they can be very difficult to remove and are very unlikely to be transferred to other students.  The problems of children missing school certainly outweighs the possible chance of spread.

For more information on lice see the following links
AI Dupont Children's Hospital
Center for Disease Control