Back to school time brings a lot of excitement across the Treasure Valley. Kids get new clothes, lunchboxes, backpacks and gear. They learn new subjects, discover new opportunities, and make new friends. One thing that’s not so new about going back to school, however, is the possibility of exposure to head lice. Here’s what you need to know to minimize your child’s risk for head lice.
Head lice, or nits, are very small insects which live on the skin that covers the scalp. They may also be found in eyebrows and eyelashes. Head lice are spread through close contact with other people. Schoolchildren may unknowingly “share” head lice by borrowing each other’s hats, combs, brushes, pillows or stuffed animals. Be sure your child understands that these are personal items, not meant to be shared with anyone else.
Head lice lay tiny eggs which may appear to be flakes of dandruff, and not raise much concern. They can live up to 30 days, and their eggs can live up to 2 weeks. People with head lice experience intense itching. Small red bumps may appear on the neck, scalp, and shoulders, and they may become crusty or ooze. People with head lice may also notice tiny white specks at the end of their hair. These are eggs or nits, and are hard to get off.
Having head lice does not lead to serious infection or spread disease. And it’s not an indication that a person is unsanitary. You can read more about the Boise School District’s Health Services information on head lice by clicking on this link.
If you get a notice from your child’s school that they have been exposed to head lice, there are several things you’ll need to do. First, check the child’s hair for any signs of lice. If you find any, you’ll need to remove eggs with a nit comb. Then use a medical shampoo, which is available without a prescription in most Treasure Valley drug stores. Follow the directions on the package and repeat as necessary. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to wash all bedding and towels the child has used. Use hot water and detergent. Keep checking for signs of lice as they may recur if the source of the problem—in most cases, an overcrowded classroom—is not corrected. That may mean deep cleaning the school’s carpet or other surfaces. If symptoms continue, call your health care provider.
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Has your child ever had head lice?
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