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The Facts of Lice
By: Wellness Committee Co-Chair Naomi Landis Forseter
Back to school time is full of excitement, anticipation and fun! The kids are reunited and ready to share everything … including lice. Lice love the communal setting of elementary schools and claim 6-12 million heads a year in the United States alone!
Lice do not care how often you wash your hair. They enjoy clean and dirty heads alike. Good hygiene won’t get you a pass. However, a few easy tricks can help reduce the spreading of these tiny, wingless, blood-sucking, multiple egg laying, fast cycling pests.
It can take up to six weeks to notice symptoms. Some people are not allergic to the louse bite, and thus have no itching, a typical red flag. Others will have itching, a sensation of movement on the head, and scabs. If you find this person is you or your child, do a thorough checking of the head looking for active lice and nits, which often look similar to dandruff but are not loose and appear to stick to the head. A magnifying glass and comb may help to identify the problem. Once identified, the best thing you can do is alert the school so everyone can be extra vigilant.
“Sharing is caring,” is the rule until lice show up. Do not share combs, hair accessories, hats, helmets, scarves, coats, towels, headsets, or ear buds in order to lessen the chance of contraction. Lice cannot jump or fly and thus head-to-head contact is their preferred method of transport. While it is more difficult, fabrics and furniture may spread lice. Rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, citronella, and eucalyptus may help deter lice and can be found in specialized shampoos and hairsprays, such as the Fairy Tales line of products. Using these products on your child may act as a first line defense.
Fortunately, your family pets are not susceptible to transmission so they may act as alternate playmates if you have an active case. Housemates are not as lucky, and great measures should be taken to vacuum frequently and to separate and use high heat washing and drying on everything the victim has frequent contact with. Lice cannot live more than 48 hours off of a scalp, so items can also be put in plastic bags and put aside for three or four days.
If the mere thought of lice has led you to incessant itching and personal suspicion and fear of affliction while reading this article, you may opt to bring in the big guns if you find yourself in this precarious spot. Check out Lice Busters, a business in Webster Groves that does everything from lice checks to do it yourself products to “louse calls,” where they come to you for full treatment of the head and home.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.