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Head Lice

Dear Parents,

Head lice are a very common problem, second only to the common cold among communicable diseases affecting school children. Head lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from your scalp.

Common signs of head lice may include:

• Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair.

• Frequent itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the insects' saliva or feces.

• Small red bumps or sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected. Infected sores may become red and tender, ooze, and then may crust over.

• Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck.

Head lice can be anywhere on the scalp, but most commonly are seen behind the ears and on the back of the head near the neckline. When looking at the scalp, very few head lice are usually seen. This is because they move rather quickly. However, there are usually many nits (lice eggs) at the base of the scalp. They look like white or clear dots. Nits are firmly attached to the hair shaft. This differs from dandruff, which moves easily along the hair shaft.

Treatment of head lice:

• Shampoos containing either pyrethrin (Rid, and others) or permethrin (Nix) are usually the first option used to combat lice infestations. These work best if you follow the directions very closely.

• In some geographical locations, lice have grown resistant to the ingredients in over-the-counter lice treatments. If over-the-counter preparations don't work, your doctor can prescribe shampoos or lotions that contain different ingredients.

• You can remove the eggs with a nit comb. Before doing this, rub olive oil in the hair or run the metal comb through beeswax; this helps make the nits easier to remove. Metal combs with very fine teeth are stronger and more effective than plastic nit combs.

• Removing eggs may prevent the lice from returning if the medication fails to kill every one of them.

• Treat children and adults with lice promptly and thoroughly.

• Wash all clothes and bed linens in hot water with detergent. This also helps prevent head lice from spreading to others during the short period when head lice can survive off the human body.

• Repeat combing for nits in 7 - 10 days.

If you have any questions please call the Diamond View Health Clerk at 257-5144 ext. 4103.