How to treat liceAlthough head lice pose no medical threats and carry no diseases, they can be somewhat of a nuisance, so knowing how to treat them as soon as possible can be helpful.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Although head lice pose no medical threats and carry no diseases, they can be somewhat of a nuisance, so knowing how to treat them as soon as possible can be helpful.
The head louse is a parasitic insect that can be found on a person’s head, eyebrows and eyelashes. Lice live close to the scalp and feed on human blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head lice are most common among children in day cares, preschools and elementary schools.
“They basically get onto another person by sleeping on the same pillow at sleepovers … or when they share hats or combs,” Red Wing School District nurse Kristine Klassen said.
Winter is when head lice are most prevalent, and Klassen said 2012 is another average year so far.
“We’ve had a few cases but we haven’t had anything out of the normal,” she said.
The schools don’t do routine checks of all students, but will conduct a check if a parent is suspicious of a child’s frequent itching. Children with lice are likely to experience a tickling feeling or sensation of something moving in their hair, irritability, sleeplessness and sores on their scalp caused by scratching, the CDC said.
If lice are found on a child at school, Klassen said the student is sent home in order to get the infestation immediately treated.
“They can come right back to school after they do the treatment,” she added.
Over-the-counter shampoo is available to treat head lice, but there’s more to the process than just washing the hair. A fine-toothed nit comb should be used to ensure all of the lice have been found and removed.
“I always tell a parent to just keep going through the hair every single night just to make sure you’re getting all the eggs out,” Klassen said, explaining how the shampoo may not always kill the bugs inside the eggs.
Though eggs — or nits — can look similar to dandruff, Klassen said it isn’t difficult to tell the difference between them.
“With dandruff, you can kind of wipe it off with your hand,” she explained. “Eggs are kind of glued onto the hair shaft. When they lay eggs, they lay a lot.”
Aside from getting the lice off of your child, it’s also important to machine wash anything the infested person wore during the two days before the treatment. Head lice will not survive more than two days if they fall off of a person and can no longer feed.
Bed linens should also be cleaned, specifically on the hot water laundry cycle. To disinfect combs or brushes, soak them in hot water for five to 10 minutes. Stuffed animals should be washed or bagged up and set outside for several days where the lice will either freeze or suffocate.
As far as furniture that can’t be thrown in a washer, “vacuuming is the best,” Klassen said. “You don’t have to spray things like they used to say.”
While there is a lot of cleaning and sanitizing to do to prevent further infestation, the good thing about lice is that they don’t jump or fly. They’re only spreadable through direct contact with things that have been infested.
To help prevent spreading:
• Avoid head-to-head or hair-to-hair contact during activities at home or elsewhere;
• Don’t share clothing like hats, scarves, coats and sports uniforms;
• Do not share combs, brushes or towels.